hE DOTH PROTEST IN LOUD TONES
Filed Under: Opinion, Politics | Posted: 04/30/2012 at 3:16AM
Comments | Region: France
He Doth Protest In A Very Loud Voice
Results for the first round of elections in France have been in for a week now – Hollande, 29.2%, Sarkozy 27%, Le Pen 17.3%, Melenchon, 11.4% – and small oceans of ink have been spilled to Explain Exactly What It Means. Everyone is talking, especially about that 17.3%, and dreading their own conclusions. It’s very much worth thinking about the results for both Le Pen and Melenchon, the two outsiders, just so long as one doesn’t fall into the trap of believing everything one thinks. Journalists do it everyday and if ‘pre-conceived ideas’ were leg irons, we’d be able to hear journalists coming from a block away. The clank-clank-clanking noise would be overwhelming because they travel in packs.
"Class warfare is on in France," the dean of French cryptologists William Pfaff asserts. It may well be true but we have to look a little closer if we want to know which classes and by which definition. France is not a fascist country – at least from my humble, battered, American perspective – despite the way the disheartened crowd, my friends among them, felt, exiting Melenchon’s post-election rally at Stalingrad in Paris. (How appropriate a setting.) Melenchon’s Front de Gauche did quite well for a new party in its first national election and it does not take a great leap to imagine the results for the Front de Gauche and LePen’s xenophobic National Front being reversed, as they may well be on the 10th and 17th of June when legislative elections take place.
It is necessary to rearrange the current picture in France a bit if you want to understand it. Consider it a kind of Cubist reordering of reality.
My thoughts on the Great Disaffected – who really are the deciding factor in current elections everywhere these days – will follow in a day or so. In the meantime, a late breaking story from the Sarko front. A fascinating man, this one. One can imagine him in a remake of the Jim Carrey film where the lead character has to go a whole day without lying. Impossible. It just comes too naturally – he probably lies to himself before he gets out of bed in the morning. Well, all politicians do, you reply. Yes, of course. But what differentiates the run of the mill hack and the brilliant strategist is that the hack repeats what others have told him, while the strategist invents on the spot, and by inventing drags you into his train of thought, his way of seeing the world. He establishes a kinship in liardom, a kind of baleful fraternity. He dares you to believe it. Murdoch, the man behind the throne, would be nothing without his frisky, cockeyed sense that the world will believe anything just so long as it’s repeated endlessly.
Over the weekend the website Mediapart published the followup to an earlier story about the Gaddafi regime’s alleged involvement in financing Sarkozy’s presidential campaign in 2007. The story started in March when they published reports of a confidential note suggesting that Gaddafi contributed as much as €50m to Sarkozy’s election fund. Sarkozy, no slouch, wasted little time in accusing the website being "an office in the service of the left." He dismissed the report and the site, despite its track record. (They broke the L’Oreal scandal in 2010, which has resulted in an official investigation.)
Mediapart has now followed up with "compelling new evidence" that the Libyan regime decided to lend Sarkozy a helping hand in 2007: A document said to be signed by Gaddafi’s foreign intelligence chief, Moussa Koussa, stating that the regime had approved a payment of €50m.
How did Sarkozy respond to this latest round of charges?
Interviewed on Canal Plus over the weekend he said, "Who led the coalition to topple Gaddafi? It was France. I was perhaps the leader. Do you think that if Gaddafi had anything on me I would have tried to oust him?"
Think back to what we now call the Arab Spring – which started in December in Tunisia. Ben Ali fell, and then Mubarak in Egypt, followed by what looked like civil war in Libya. Sarkozy was quite close to the Ben Ali regime – and he saw how things turned out there. Is Sarkozy saying that, under the circumstances, with the whole world watching, if he had done a secret deal with Gaddafi, he would have rushed to defend the tyrant, whose days were certainly numbered? Mais non. Instead he galvanized a reluctant Obama and NATO – and proceeded to pound Libyan military and strategic installations, perhaps praying each night before he went to bed that one of the bombs hit government archives. Who was more dangerous to Sarkozy, a wounded, living Gaddafi whom Sarkozy did nothing to rescue (he had tried conciliation in the early days of the Tunisian uprising), or a dead Gaddafi, who could tell no tales?
Still, his logic hangs there, a kind of transparent gauze over reality, a fascinating attempt to prove his innocence – like the child caught with his hand in the cookie jar who insists he was merely counting the cookies to make sure they were all there. Sheer on the spot, balls out, improvisational brilliance. It drives the French crazy – they think they’ve turned to the wrong channel and are watching a Mafia epic.
There is one other least interesting aspect of what we can now call the 50 Million Euro Affair. To quote Angelique Crisafis in the Guardian:
The letter, written in Arabic and dated December 2006, said Tripoli had agreed to "support the electoral campaign" of Sarkozy. It said an agreement on "the amount and method of payment" had been reached at a meeting two months earlier involving Brice Hortefeux, a close ally of Sarkozy and then minister for local government.The meeting on 6 October 2006, was said to have been attended by Gaddafi’s spy chief, Abdullah Senussi, the head of Tripoli’s African investment fund, Bashir Saleh, and the Franco-Lebanese arms broker and businessman Ziad Takieddine. Takieddine’s lawyer denied he was present but said the meeting "could certainly have taken place."
Takieddine was in Paris recently, refusing to answer questions about a money laundering scandal from the 1990s that involves a very young government minister by the name of Nicholas Sarkozy. Perhaps Takieddine has been following the election results and has come to the conclusion that Sarkozy’s time is up.
Iddhis Bing, Paris correspondent for NYArts, is the author of The Apartment Thief, a novel. email@example.com