Tuesday, November 22, 2005

L'effet Sarko

Guest Blogger: LB

When I returned to France this fall after two years' absence, "Sarko" was already quite familiar to me. He had made quite a name for himself when I was here in the 90s--at that time he was the mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine. Although I'd never had any particular fondness for the bloke, I admit that I was loathe to fall into the habit of Sarko bashing, something I feared was simply a pastime for the intello/gauche-caviar set. So I watched and listened with a dose of skepticism.

And as if my worst fears weren't already confirmed when he headed out to Argenteuil armed with Karcher and a powerful word--"racaille"--his handling of the situation has thoroughly disgusted me. Where to begin?

Were he anything of a diplomat, he might have seized the occasion early on in the riots to truly reach out, to make an example of himself by apologizing, by going to the people. But diplomacy is not his point fort: last week on the set of "A vous de juger", he poured gas on the fire when he responded to a young man from Seine-St-Denis:

"Je n'accepte pas votre discourse. Je n'accepte pas votre discours parce que vous parlez mal." [I refuse to listen to your reasoning. I refuse because you speak poorly.]

If the young man had been given a chance to respond, he might have turned Sarko's words right back at him.

As very few people have pointed out, although this bomb went off when Sarko lit the fuse (and when two young men were electrocuted), as far as governmental hierarchy and delegation is concerned, he is not the one who should be making decisions about how to change the situation. These decisions are the domain ofthe Ministre de la ville, or any other number of ministeries who should be involved in questions of education, housing, urban planning. Sarko needs to get the police under control, but after that, do we really need to see him on TV? Yes, yes we do, because monsieur is on the campaign trail...


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