Topic: World View
Geopolitics: Fallout from the French Kiss of Death
The news on the French rejecting the EU constitution was covered in Just Above Sunset in columns, with photos, from Our Man in Paris, Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis. You will find the pre-referendum column here and the post-referendum column here.
Late Monday night Ric sends this along from Paris -
And as I was scanning this note from Paris the news broke.
De Villepin appointed French PM
BBC News World Service - Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
Well, no kidding. Chirac had campaigned hard, sort of, for the "Yes" vote, along with government and main opposition parties. And it seems he will make a national address this evening, Tuesday, to present a policy for the new team that should be in place until the 2007 election – whoever that team may be. He hasn’t named anyone else yet. The BBC notes that reports say Nicolas Sarkozy, the leader of the ruling UMP party, will return to the interior ministry, as Ric says, the post de Villepin had. Sarkozy may be the new president in 2008 – but as Ric says, de Villepin is taller. In any event, Opinion polls seem to show that Raffarin himself was one of France's most unpopular prime ministers, and the BBC notes, since the Fifth Republic was set up in 1958.
As Ric on the ground there notes, de Villepin makes peasants feel uncomfortable.
There’s an interesting dynamic here. This fellow makes the neoconservatives who run our government more than uncomfortable too. As noted in these pages in June 2003, we know this de Villepin guy writes a lot, a history of Napoleon here, poetry there, and he's a suave devil who dresses well, and he runs marathons and seems to have a sense of humor, and he's awfully articulate in English too. This really ticks off the folks here who argue fancy words don't matter, because the only thing that matters is what you do. Folks here don't cotton to glib, fast taking foreign folks.
Is Chirac trying to piss off George Bush? Is this the French answer to John Bolton? Talk about contrasts!
And here, in May of 2004, Thomas Frank suggests de Villepin is the perfect foil for Bush – the opposite of everything Bush stands for.
The Elitism Myth
Tom Paine, May 7, 2004
Frank recalls the UN disagreement -
Bush didn’t engineer a repeat confrontation with de Villepin, but that would have been classic.
The dynamic? Dominique de Villepin really is the hated liberal elite in the flesh – a living, breathing challenge to the inarticulate, anti-intellectual proud-of-just-scraping-by-with-a-low-C-average-in-college, I-don’t-read-nothin’ Bush crowd. That Bush stands behind the angry, abusive, simple-minded John Bolton as the best thing for the UN (he’ll slap them around) – and Chriac stands behind Dominique de Villepin – says it all.
As Ric implies, the French equivalent of our Bush-loving NASCAR fans feel the same way about this de Villepin fellow.
Maybe David Brooks was on to something with his column last weekend in the New York Times - Karl's New Manifesto (May 29, 2005) – a riff on what Karl Marx might write today -
Amusing, but here we are today. Bush sends Bolton to the UN and Chirac elevates de Villepin to Prime Minister.
It begins. Or continues.
A late afternoon clarification from Ric in Paris ?
A note on orthography as the BBC clarifies matters (Published: 2005/06/01 18:30:14 GMT)
Can we all remember the rules?
Received from Ric in Paris, Wednesday, June 01, 2005, 3:45 PM Pacific Time -