And you thought I was joking…

Ha. You thought this was an exercise in strategic trolling. Think again; the French Navy’s helicopter carrier Jeanne d’Arc pulled into New York on the 28th for a port call, and to deliver a consignment of books for schools in New Orleans. (French ones, naturally.) Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani’s primary campaign took a misstep when he badly misjudged his core constituency

«Un sondage montre que 67 % des Américains pensent que le pays est sur la mauvaise voie…», annonce Rudolph Giuliani à une centaine de supporteurs réunis dans un petit restaurant de Hampton, dans le New Hampshire. Costume noir rayé, cravate rouge, l’ex-maire de New York en campagne pour la Maison Blanche balaie d’un regard contrarié la foule trop éparse. «Connaissez-vous un autre pays qui soit plus mal en point que ça ?» «La France !» lance un militant arborant un macaron «Rudy for president», aussitôt approuvé par l’assistance. «Pas du tout !» bondit Giuliani. «Nicolas Sarkozy a écrit un livre excellent sur son programme, qu’il met en œuvre en ce moment», rétorque-t-il à son auditoire un peu confondu.

I’m not sure which is funnier – Giuliani trying to push France as an example to his war-crazed freedom fries base (this is the guy who hired Dan Senor and Norman Podhoretz, mark) or the notion that Sarko is still new, revolutionary or exciting.

I spent enough time on this blog trying to dispel the myth of “Sarkozy, France’s Margaret Thatcher” that iit’s wearying to repeat any of it; but essentially all the media beyond France, and much of it within France, got him completely, embarrassingly wrong. Rather than offering a dramatic ideological break, Sarko is much better understood as a Blair or Berlusconi figure; heavily reliant on a dominant media owner (his own media for Berlusconi; Murdoch’s for Blair; Lagardere and the wave of late-Chirac appointments at France Televisions for Sarkozy), wrapping a fundamentally conservative message in the cult of newness and business style. Security, property prices, and TV.

It’s like Chirac with more caffeine. This is unlikely to change much; the long-awaited ruck with the Left over special pension provisions has resulted in the issue being punted to tripartite negotiations with business and the unions, and the flagship economic policy (introducing mortgage tax relief) was derailed by the courts. Although it’s still theoretically on the agenda, nobody is now expecting a property boom any time soon.

What Sarko is probably worrying about is more that his fiscal boost came before the credit crisis; €15bn of tax cuts that fell precisely the wrong side of the cycle.

17 thoughts on “And you thought I was joking…

  1. He said what now?? Please translate. You should choose if your blog is in french or in english!

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  3. well, for me i’d want the english part to be translated ;)

    i’ve got many problems to follow you in english

  4. @vavatch: To sum it up, at a meeting with his supporters in a restaurant, Giuliani asks whether they know a country that’s doing worse than the US are. To which somebody in the audience answers France. And Giuliani contradicts him: “not at all, Nicolas Sarkozy wrote an excellent book about his program, that he’s now putting into action.” Of course, his audience is not a just a bit puzzled by this.

    HTH,
    Thomas

  5. French ignorance of the US knows no bounds: New Orleans is way down south in the Gulf of Mexico.

    It is not to be confused with New York.

    Maybe the captain just lost his way.

  6. Nice analysis of Sarkozy. He has however a great rhetorical gift. He was able to convince the French in 2007 that he was new, although he had been in the previous right-wing government (holding all powers in the State-Senate-Parliament and all other significant “thrones”), as Minister of the Economy and Minister of the Interior. In neither job did he succeeed -the media ignored this-it would, they own him.

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