September 20, 2007

DUMBING UP:

The French Revolution: As President Nicolas Sarkozy assumes the role of Europe's most dynamic leader, smashing taboos has stripped away paralyzing French hypocrisy. (Roger Cohen, 9/19/07, Der Spiegel)

The French Revolution of 2007 has not seen heads roll but has involved the destruction of 10 taboos as President Nicolas Sarkozy assumes the role of Europe's most dynamic leader.

THE AMERICAN TABOO

Enthusiasm for the United States was unacceptable for a French political leader because it was always interpreted as an embrace of "Wild West" capitalism, "Anglo-Saxon" hegemony and vulgarity. De rigueur attitudes held sway: patronizing contempt in Paris met macho derision in Washington. Communication suffered. Sarko's New Hampshire vacation, enthused American dreaming, iPod-accompanied jogging and in-your-face style cleared the air. [...]

THE CULTURAL TABOO

To run France, you had to be cultured. Mitterrand's bookish references and Delphic utterances ("A president must know how to be bored") positioned him as too clever to contest. Chirac had a recherché passion for Japan. Culture - like cows but on a different level - connected the president to the Gallic eternal. Sarko, an American movie buff, is more at home with Johnny Hallyday than Jean-Paul Sartre.


An Anglo-American contempt for intellectuals could have saved them from the Enlightenment in the first place.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 20, 2007 7:39 AM
Comments

Chirac got that partly right. He sure knew how to be boring.

Posted by: erp at September 20, 2007 12:09 PM

All his ideas are good. Will he be able to cut the bloated administration? Will he be able to simplify the paperwork and forms one has to deal with in France? Will he be able to make the government more responsive to the citizens? Will he be able to convince the French that there is no deciding king anymore, that they have to show initiative on their own.

Posted by: Aeschlimo at September 20, 2007 3:39 PM
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