Saturday, May 10, 2008

Les Femmes Fatales


The latest word is that Obama has the nomination in hand. He's taken the lead in super delegates and with Clinton having already invested $ 6 million dollars of her own personal fortune just to keep her campaign solvent the reality, well, it may be now setting in: that it's over. Obama believes it. He already looks ahead in his speeches focusing on MCain. Soon the next cycle begins.

The whole world is overdosed on the extended electoral battle. Even up here in Canada it's at times a bit much. After all, we have scandal right here. Our own foreign minister Maxine Bernier in the news last for making an Emperor has no clothes accusation of corruption in the Afghan government has now been returned to the spotlight for his continuing liaison with former biker gang siren Julie Couillard.

Pictures of the couple when they first appeared in the press prompted that "wow, who is that with him" reactions from the press corps and public alike. She is in fact the ex-wife of a successful drug dealer in a Quebec biker gang organisation, a man who was said to have given up a life of crime for her sake. After his untimely assassination she was linked with another figure higher up in rungs of the crime syndicate, another man who seemed to fall under her spell. A swirl of unsubstantiated rumors surround her- she's worked for justice, had a contract placed on her life. Of late, she has been a real estate agent in Montreal and the erstwhile paramour of monsieur Bernier. Her dark associations and the possible taint of corruption it leaves on Bernier in his role as a public servant has the political opposition in a furore. Bernier has claimed to have severed his ties with her but still continues to be seen on number of occasions at her side. There is no evidence of wrong doing but it has the old sheen of Mata Hari and john Profumo. There are some who will blame it on the lapsed French side of the Canadian Family.

In another story is Doug Saunders' take on French President Nicolas Sarkozy over the course of an eventful year. Seen through the eyes of women in his life Sarkozy cuts a more sympathetic figure than recent media depictions. Prior to the elections he rode the heels of a successful brand, of the outsider whose immigrant background, Jewish grand parentage, instilled in him the energy and sense of industry to break into the still protected core of French society. He then rode that drive and energy in a new collective desire for change in much the same way Obama has captured a similar zeitgeist in his campaign.

Those popular sentiments have become a distant memory. Now with his private life always in the news, a divorce from his previous wife, the cool intellectual beauty Cecilia Ciganer and the public recoil at the vulgarity of his quick engagement and marriage to ex-model Carla Bruni he has become an almost universal object of parody in the French media. Saunder's points to the image of Sarkozy as a variation of Berlusconi , the right wing playboy given to gaudy displays of his power. Yet, despite the misjudgements in taste, (Elvis and Celine Dion ) he comes across as something of a romantic in this profile, in many ways guided by the women in his life. His appointment of Rama Yade as his minister of Human Rights, young, of Senegalese origin, incidentally beautiful and decidedly left wing , and madame Christine Lagarde, France's first female finance minister who looks to take the country on a more pro- laissez faire path points to the level of faith he still places in change, at least in whom he feels will make that change.

I'm in agreement with many of the French who are not comfortable with the direction he is taking the country but he has also spoken of placing a French stamp on the free market model, one with a more humane face. This is a possible tipping point and in some ways there does look to be some promise. As Saunders describes, Carla Bruni has started to refine his maudlin pop tastes , for the better.

Which brings us back to the oppressive toll of the Primary that will morph in the coming months to a Presidential background. Here's a good politically incorrect break. Matt Tabbi writes in Rolling Stone on the campaign in the kick to the groin way. Here's his take on Hilary as Nixon. His blog is here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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