Rapture vs. Hell!
A French-American perspective on politics, culture, current events, religion, languages, and education
It is actually the media in the US who like to call the French president "Sarko, l’Américain", rather than the French. This is especially true of American conservatives as you see in the video below:.
Fred Thompson said in an ABC radio that it “has been a serious blow to those who claim that America has earned the undying hatred of Europeans… A French president who openly admires America is an embarrassment to those who view us as the country bumpkin cousins of the sophisticated Europeans.”
The New York Sun says it even better with its legendary prose and complex analysis : “How are all those Democratic Party, pinky-in-the-air U.N. admirers who wailed about Mr. Bush’s alienating of Europe going to explain this turn of events?”
New York Observer’s Niall Stanage has a much more realistic analysis of the situation in his editorial:
It is not quite as simple as that. For a start, it takes a robust sense of self-importance to assume that national elections on the other side of the Atlantic are nothing more than referenda on relations with America.
In fact, the French and German elections were largely decided by domestic issues. In both cases, a moribund economy and a general sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo fuelled the victories of candidates whose pro-free market reform credentials were more important than their pro-Americanism.
He goes with interesting survey results:
A survey released in September by Italy’s Center for the Study of Political Change made even more bracing reading for those who claimed to feel a new warm breeze of amity wafting across the ocean. It found European populations at large much more hostile to the U.S. than were political elites.
Seventy-seven per cent of EU officials and 74 per cent of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) answered ‘yes’ when asked whether it was desirable that the U.S. exert strong leadership in world affairs. But the survey indicated that only 36 per cent of the EU public agreed.
Similarly, while majorities of both EU officials and MEPs expressed confidence that transatlantic relations would improve after the 2008 U.S. presidential election, only 38 per cent of the general public agreed.
Perhaps such statistics overestimate the long-term damage done to America’s international reputation. After all, if the solidarity expressed with the U.S. in the days after September 11 2001 can so quickly turn to hostility, it seems reasonable to assume things could flip in the opposite direction just as speedily.
So while, the situatiuon has definitely improved and will greatly impact international relations, it is not like the Bush administration or the neo-conse agenda has gained any sort of popularity in Europe.
And despite the rhetoric of the French government, it is unlikely that a potential war with Iran will be supported by puplic opinion.
The French president has been nicknamed, “Sarko, l’Américain”, but he is not as “American” as a lot of people, either in France or in the U.S., would like to believe. A few weeks ago, he walked out on CBS “60 minutes”, after Leslie Stahl pressed him with questions about his now ex-wife, Cecilia. Something incomprehensible to many Americans
This incident may be another good illustration of a typical French-American cultural misunderstanding. Whereas in America, the private life of a politician is considered to reflect his or her ethical conduct, in France, it is considered mostly irrelevant or just worthy of the tabloid press. (see our post on this topic)
In this case, however, the walkout may be more the expression of a man with bad-temper than simple cultural misunderstanding. When you watch this other video, you see a very nervous Sarkozy who is clearly about to blow it. It is kind of scary.
Now of course, one must remember this was edited by CBS’s Leslie Stahl who was precisely trying to make the point of saying that Sarkozy has a temper and so we may suspect her of being slightly biased in her presentation.
But in any case, no one in France will deny that Sarkozy has a temper, and just to set the record straight, Stahl is wrong about something: no one but a few journalists call him “Sarko, l’Americain” in France.