Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sarkozy, the Rejected Suitor.

This week Nicolas Sarkozy decorated Clint Eastwood with the order of Commander of the Legion of Honour, the highest decoration in France (established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802).Eastwood was actually ‘upgrade’ from ‘knight of the Legion of Honor’ previously given by Jacques Chirac.
Charles Bremmer asks a pointed question :
What is the service that Eastwood has rendered ?
Sarkozy's office says the honour is deserved because Eastwood "is a global star who is very fond of France.".

This is not only strange, it is typical, as Bremmer said, of the lingering love-hate relationship between the U.S. and France.
Sarkozy’s case is different from his predecessors’ though. After he initially threw himself into the arms of the US, he now acts more like a rejected suitor.
He took his first summer holiday as President in New England, not far from the Bushes. He has cooled off in a big way. Obama's refusal to take up his offer of special complicity has been taken as a personal affront by the French President. On Monday, he tore a strip off Obama over his failure to come to Berlin for the Wall celebrations, according to a leak of his remarks in le Canard Enchaîné. [French satirical paper].
"Obama is very disappointing in foreign policy. He doesn't just have difficult relations with me," he was quoted as saying. "It's the same with (Chancellor) Merkel and (Prime Minister) Brown. Europe does not excite him. As for the rest of the world, it's a disappointment too. The language has changed. There has been an opening up. The hand is outstretched but it is grasped by no-one."
A few days earlier Sarkozy launched into an anti-Obama tirade at the weekly cabinet meeting, comparing himself highly favourably with the US president, who, he said, had only managed to produce a single reform so far.(Le Canard is usually quite accurate with its Sarkozy quotes. Ministers read it closely to find out what the boss is
thinking).
Sarkozy should take this as humbling experience rather than a personal smack, but I am afraid his ego is way too big for him to put it all in perspective. The fact remains that for Obama, Europe is less relevant that it used to be and France better get used to it.
Meanwhile, Sarkozy tried (too) hard this week to “emulate the gesture of reconciliation by the late President Mitterrand when he held hands with Chancellor Helmut Kohl at the Verdun battlefield in 1984”. This seems more like a desperate move after failing to build up a new relationship with Britain. Besides, Angela Merkel may not be so keen on those big shows of unity.
"France looks a little like the rejected lover in this couple de raison," le Monde said on Wednesday..
The fact that Sarkozy is down in the polls makes some grand scheme of unity probably more relevant to refurbish his image. That, and the French identity debate. His behavior, his lack of tact and finesse are quite embarrassing but unfortunately, they are neither new nor unexpected.

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