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Letter from Paris - Anybody But

Our Man in Paris, Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, gives us Saturday night there - the political landscape and the landscape of the night.  As this is both commentary and photography, it has been cross-posted at the commentary site.  And the archive of Ric's previous columns from Paris can be found at The International Desk.

Paris, Saturday Night ("Never")

… additional photos follow the text

PARIS, SATURDAY NIGHT (28 April 2007) - It seems like the French do not really like either of the two candidates left in the running for the president's job. Me, I think Ségolène Royal is a nice lady with an inappropriate name for a Socialist but I can't vote for her. As far as Nicolas Sarkozy is concerned I side with most French who are saying, "Anybody but Sarkozy!"

On a little tour of the 'hood here tonight I noticed that the newsmagazines are thinking the unthinkable. Can Sarkozy be beaten? Is Sarkozy a loser? Why don't they ask if he is a little shit? Whether he can be beaten and become a loser is still up in the air.

It is pretty obvious that Sarkozy has been to communications school. He said he won't talk to last week's third-place loser, François Bayrou, because the game's rules say that third place is the equivalent of no place and in the soccer final third counts for nothing. He was giving us a little lesson about the obvious, and if he gets to be president I fear it won't be the last.

So Ségolène got up early this morning and met François in a TV studio and they had a 90-minute chit-chat. This was around noon, on channels nobody watches or receives, but tonight's evening news told us all about it. They agreed about some things and disagreed about others, and everybody who could got to see them both discussing France and its future.

Meanwhile Sarkozy was being nice to very dubious-looking steel workers up north, being led around by his new sidekick, Jean-Louis Borloo. This Borloo is a smart lawyer who can hang out with steel workers. What he sees in Sarkozy I don't know. Sarko was being buddy-buddy with Giscard yesterday, and he invented Bayrou's UDF party. What he sees in Sarko I don't know. He's been president already, kind of like Jimmy Carter, so I don't think he's angling for a junior minister job.

All the Greenies and all the Reds are supposed to push for Ségolène. You might see something poo-pooing this in the Herald Tribune or the New York Times. Although I must say the NYT did promote steak-frites in Paris today. Yeah, well, that's not exactly a green stance, is it?

So far it is adding up to the political battle of the century, so far. Both sides are saying that France is in dire straits. This should be no surprise because everybody is always saying France is in dire straits.

But if you look around, except for the unemployed, except for the poorly housed, except for the folks with minimum pensions, and all the dorks that are getting ripped off by the phone companies, we are doing pretty good in France even though the place is riddled with corruption, strikes, bureaucratic chaos, deadly hospitals, political lying, and they are going to kick the smokers into the lousy streets.

With problems like these it must be pretty clear why we want to keep the 35-hour work week and lower it to 32 if possible. What Sarkozy is proposing is working 48 hours with no overtime pay, two weeks' holiday without pay and paying cash for health care. All the people supporting him just proves that there are a lot of idiot crazies in France, something that folks living here already know.

It's like what you went through in the States. Everybody voted against their own self-interest and they still don't know what they got but it looks like some are beginning to catch on. I'm not saying the French are brilliant but it shouldn't take a lot of sense to realize that the whole bum trip can be avoided.

If Sarkozy is elected there may still be a chicken in every pot every Sunday but you can be damn sure it's one of those lousy water-birds that taste like old chewing gum, and not a bit like the fat, plump, juicy, socialist Cadillac chickens that run around free living off the fat of the land. By that I mean living on good French dirt.

The French banks are making monster profits. The French luxo industries are bringing in huge bundles from overseas and declaring huge profits. Champagne, perfume, wine, foie gras, designer clothes - I don't what France isn't making pots of money off. But all the candidates want to do is tell us about the dire straits - workers coming here from Africa, kids can't read, unemployed, and so on - they don't say much about the Airbus and its full order books, the TGV, or anything about the building industry looking for 200,000 workers - the hospitals need nurses - the restaurant industry needs - merde!

I mean, what France really needs is water. It hasn't rained for a long time and water levels are about where they get in August after a long hot summer. Watch the stock market - France is going to be in the market for some water pretty soon.

Here's what it comes down to. You ask yourself if you want a short president who runs around bent over like Groucho Marx, wearing a double-brested jacket undone? If that isn't your picture of the president of France, well then what about a nice lady who stands up straight and never wears a pin-striped double-breasted anything, buttoned or otherwise?

You have a clear choice, now go out and vote for Ségolène on Sunday, May 6. Then treat yourself to one of those plump chicken while they last.

Final note - for folks not paying attention, all of the above may be moot. The president of France may be powerful and have a lot of wonderful ideas, but actually forcing something on the French is a very tricky business. First off the president needs a majority in the legislature... and second, the voting for that will be a few weeks after the president is elected. It's the French version of the fat lady singing.

- goodnight from Paris, radioric

Paris, Saturday night, April 28, 2007 - Nicolas Sarkozy image
Paris, Saturday night, April 28, 2007 - Nicolas Sarkozy image
Paris, Saturday night, April 28, 2007
Paris, Saturday night, April 28, 2007

Text and Photos Copyright © 2007 - Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis

[Letter From Paris]

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 - Alan M. Pavlik