The French Bombshell – Stranger Than Fiction
by Eric Margolis: The
Osama Tale: Stranger and Stranger
– This week, the big buzz for "le tout Paris" (all Paris)
– at least until Sunday’s "le grand bombshell" – was that
President Nicholas Sarkozy and wife Carla Bruni were boycotting
the Cannes Film Festival which just opened with the film, Le
Conquest (The Conquest).
This acid film is all about how a short, pushy, outsider in elevator
heels ruthlessly clawing his way to the top of France’s political
establishment. It’s fiction, but you have to be from Uranus not
to know this celluloid hatchet job is all about Sarko and his exquisite
wife Carla – who, at 43, is rumored to be pregnant, just in time
for next year’s presidential elections.
no-show is even more dramatic since she has a role in Woody Allen’s
new film, Midnight
in Paris, which opens with great fanfare at Cannes. In France,
politics and film are inseparable.
press, which passionately loathes France, is having a field day
running nasty stories about the film and circulating ugly rumors
about Carla, who has never been renowned for fidelity or constancy.
this springtime folderol went on, a political bombshell of staggering
power exploded in New York City.
An April poll
showed Socialist bigwig Dominique Strauss-Kahn running ahead of
Sarkozy at 30%, followed by far-right National Front leader Marine
LePen at 21%, and, sacré bleu! Sarko trailing at 19% in a
first round of the two-part vote. Strauss-Kahn would then wallop
Sarkozy in the second round vote.
was expected to step down shortly as head of the International Monetary
Fund and announce his run for president. He is expected to easily
beat out the other truly boring Socialist contenders for the nomination:
Francois Hollande, Martine Aubry, and Segolene Royal.
Strauss had decided to stay in his cushy IMF job, Sarkozy would
likely have whipped these weak Socialist candidates who are furiously
squabbling among themselves and are bereft of public respect.
left was not happy with Strauss-Kahn, known to all as DSK. A millionaire
with a four million euro Paris penthouse and 140,000 euro Porche,
DSK is lambasted by leftists as a champagne Socialist and establishment
fat cat – which he certainly is.
anti-business, anti-globalization left had to decide whether it
wanted ideological purity or a candidate who could beat Sarkozy
– who, of course was praying every night that DSK won’t run.
or Carla’s Italian witchcraft, were amazingly answered this past
Sunday in New York City.
was on an Air France flight at Kennedy Airport, preparing to fly
to Europe to meet Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel. Minutes
before takeoff, he was pulled off the flight by New York City police,
hauled off to jail and later charged with the attempted rape and
confinement of a 30-something maid at the Sofitel Hotel near Times
deny the charges, which at this moment sound rather flimsy But even
if DSK is acquitted, the accusation will anger some female voters
and possibly make him politically radioactive, particularly after
past accusation, mostly hushed up, of numerous sexual escapades
that got out of hand.
be dancing with joy in the Elysee Palace. DSK’s bizarre Times Square
misadventure very likely secures Sarko the presidency in 2012 because
his other potential Socialist rivals are even less popular than
on a roll, Sarko must also now be praying that his bitter conservative
rival, tall, patrician former prime minister, Dominique de Villepin,
won’t shake off his current legal troubles and challenge Sarko for
the center-right leadership. Sarko got de Villepin charged with
slander and an attempted frame-up in an obscure financial scandal.
polls show that France’s most respected and trusted politician remains
former president Jacques Chirac, who is also embroiled in his old
political funding scandals.
Marine LePen’s hard right National Front has growing momentum due
to mounting resentment against immigration, unemployment and globalization.
The surge of France’s xenophobic far right is stealing away droves
of voters from Sarkozy’s conservative party.
father Jean-Marie are often accused of being fascists. They are
not. I spent much time with LePen senior, exploring his views. They
are of France’s traditional ultra conservative Catholic right that
found voice in the World War II Vichy government.
They are certainly
anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim and anti-immigration, but not fascists
of the Mussolini school. To understand this important difference,
read Prof. Robert Paxton’s fine book, The
Anatomy of Fascism.
to the growing challenge from the LePen challenge has been to move
even more rightward by bombing Libya and Ivory Coast, issuing threats
against Syria, and getting closer to the United States and Israel.
But recent polls show seven of ten French dislike or detest the
hyperkinetic, flashy Sarkozy – know as "president bling"
– and don’t regard him as properly French.
also faces some highly dangerous financial scandals. The most dangerous
is the scandal over secret kickbacks he may have authorized over
the sale of French submarines to Pakistan in the 1990’s that may
have led to the deaths in Karachi of a number of French naval technicians.
But Sarko just
got some more very good news that could sweep away these dark clouds:
France’s economy grew a sizzling 1% in the first three months of
2011. Germany’s grew 1.5%. Northern Europe’s economy is on a roll,
even though southern Europe is stuck in a ditch.
So now, the
big question is, if Strauss-Kahn ends up in a New York State prison,
will French voters who are fed up with Sarkozy throw their votes
to Marine Le Pen’s National Front? Or will it be Roi Sarko in the
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2011 Eric Margolis
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