July 12, 2005

The State of Sarkozy

Marc Perelman ably writes up what might be the first comprehensive profile of Nicolas Sarkozy for a U.S. publication in Foreign Policy. Having just recently returned from France, I can report that Sarkozy's visage is plastered on just about every periodical in the country--and that the French appear significantly more interested in the soi disant 100 days he has to save his marriage and win back wife Cecilia than, say, Dominique de Villepin's 100 days to, you know, improve the rather dismal employment picture plaguing France for so long now. Hey, it's the long summer, and the French love domestic intrigues, no? (Some conspiracy minded folks, by the way, speculate the presumed marital discords are but a piece de teatre to 'humanize' Sarko--watch him win back his wife by September!).

This is not to say that Sarkozy isn't a serious figure. His robust political skills are certainly very much in evidence of late. I am tempted to say he has engaged in something akin to reverse triangulation. But unlike Clinton and Blair, men of the Left, Sarkozy's natural home is on the Right. Indeed, as Interior Minister both at present and in a previous tour, Sarkozy has shown himself very good indeed at convincing rightist constituencies in France that he pays serious attention to bread and butter issues that concern them like crime and immigration. At the same time, however, he has shown a willingness to reach out to minorities, to allow for affirmative action programs, to have government intervene in pricing schemes despite his fundamentally free market orientation. Indeed, not least because of such adept triangulation leftwards--butressed by smart, common-sensical pragmatism, tremendous amounts of energy, and core droitiste convictions--Sarko must be considered the presumptive lead player to assume the Presidency in 2007 (Chirac may run again, or more likely push de Villepin to the fore, but it is likely Sarko's to lose all told). More on all this soon, but for now be sure to read Perelman's informative piece.

Money quote, at least for those on this side of the Atlantic:

Although he is careful to stress that he does not see eye-to-eye with President Bush on many issues, he is unabashedly pro-American. “I like America and the Americans a lot and I say it. Do I need help, doctor?” he quips, raising his eyebrows. “Some of my friends tell me not to talk about it so [loudly]. Why? I don’t get it.”
Posted by Gregory at July 12, 2005 03:52 AM | TrackBack (5)

I think rather the whole point about the Sarkozy domestic drama is precisely that it is so unusual. The French press NEVER covers the private lives of their politicians. Which is IMHO, precisely why France has so many corrupt ones. But the whole way the story is being covered is a first, pretty much.

Posted by: Martin Adamson at July 12, 2005 11:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What got the French media's attention was an e-mail from Sarkozy to his wife that somehow got into Le Monde. It began "Cecilia! You're breaking my heart! You're shaking my confidence, baby!"

This is significant, naturally, because it was written in English, and because confidence is thought very important for French politicians. No wonder Sarkozy's future is in doubt.

Posted by: JEB at July 13, 2005 02:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

for a second i thought this was serious...and then...the lyrics came back to me!

Posted by: greg at July 13, 2005 02:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I crack myself up sometmes.

Posted by: JEB at July 13, 2005 07:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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