Wednesday, May 18, 2011

We had expected you to be ....

Well, maybe not "the next prime minister but three" as Hilaire Belloc wrote so memorably about Lord Lundy who was far too freely moved to tears but, at least the next socialist candidate for the French presidency and, quite possibly, given Sarko's lack of popularity, the next French President. Alas for those hopes. It seems more than likely that Dominique Strauss Kahn's political hopes and career are over.

As the Economist put it:
EVERYTHING was in place to enable Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF head, to declare next month his candidacy for the Socialist primary, ahead of French presidential elections next year. Polls consistently showed that he was the most popular Socialist candidate, and the best placed to beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in a run-off. But Mr Strauss-Kahn’s arrest on May 14th in New York, for an alleged sexual assault, has thrown all those plans in the air, and looks almost certain to wreck his political future.
This is rather a belated acknowledgement of the story that is of some interest and even greater amusement. After all, if the two stories about DSK as he is now known in the media are true then there may well have been others and, almost certainly, a good deal of gossip around him that was, presumably covered up by the various left-wing parties, media outlets and transnational organizations the man fetched up in.

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, a leading French journalist who can write and broadcast equally well and entertainingly in French and English says on her blog and in the Daily Telegraph:
When the news broke in Paris early yesterday that France’s former finance minister had been arrested by the New York police for alleged sexual assault on a hotel housekeeper, reactions here were split between sheer disbelief, suspicions of entrapment and all-too-many knowing shrugs.

“Dominique Strauss-Kahn is well-known as a seducer,” his official biographer, Michel Taubmann, said. “I can’t believe he would force himself on an unwilling woman. That doesn’t make sense.”

Such a statement would come across as damning in most Western countries. In France, it is seen as a spirited defence. Until today, complicated sexual lives, multiple divorces and serial adultery never hampered political careers. François Mitterrand famously ran three parallel families while president. He appointed a former girlfriend of his, Edith Cresson (a married woman) as prime minister in 1991. His predecessor, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, used to borrow a Ferrari from his friend Roger Vadim, the film director and Brigitte Bardot’s first husband, when he went on the pull. (He once crashed it into a milk float early one morning on his way back to the Elysée.) Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy were known for eyeing up comely reporters and female junior ministers.

In that context, DSK’s notorious penchant (and more) for a legion of pretty women did him no harm at all. “If anything,” Taubmann recalls, “he was the one harassed, not the reverse — I’ve seen time and again women MPs, party workers, etc brazenly passing on notes, hoping he would notice them.”
Poor chap - clearly the victim of predatory females. Or something. But, as Ms Moutet points out, alleged assault on two women (and more accusations might surface) is a different matter even in France, especially as the arrest was made in New York. Would he have been arrested had the first complaint been made in Paris? It is worth reading Ms Moutet's posting in full - she is very knowledgeable and gives some background to the story, pointing out that the immediate beneficiary of it all is Front National's Marine Le Pen, who is reported as not being surprised at all.

In the meantime here are a couple of articles from Der Spiegel, which support Anne-Elisabeth Moutet's points. Apparently, the appointment of a man who had been a banker or, in other words, actually understood about money, was something of a surprise among the cognocscenti, "but his stewardship of the institution during the global financial crisis drew praise". Must have been all that money he was giving away in bail-outs.

The same issue had an article about French political opinion being "aghast" at the charges.

In the end, it is, as ever, Dan Mitchell with whom I agree. He thinks that, while rapists should be tried and, if found guilty, punished, it is the IMF that we should really go after.

More on the IMF from Doug Bandow, also from Cato. I'd like to think he did not pick that ridiculous title, which is silly even as an attempt at a play on words. The article is very good.

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