Sunday, November 04, 2007

Little big man

by Capt Fogg

I don't know very much about Nicholas Sarkozy or his policies. I know very little about French politics in fact but I have a hard time picturing George Bush or indeed any American president I know of doing the sort of things Sarkozy does.

He's not a tall man; not as tall as George the Decider and doesn't swagger across flight decks in too tight flight suits and doesn't seem to have a perpetual, condescending smirk on his face, but he's a man who once ended a hostage situation in 1993 when he was the mayor of a Paris suburb, by entering a building alone and unarmed to negotiate the release of a nursery school class, after which the police entered and shot the man with the bomb. There is something about the man who firmly and politely ended the 60 Minutes interview and walked away from the flabbergasted Leslie Stahl with dignity unstained, that makes him appear quite a bit taller in my eyes even without the high heeled cowboy boots. George dodging questions looks in comparison, like a petulant and spoiled little boy.

Just a little while ago, Sarkozy left Chad with three French journalists and four Spanish flight crew who had been held in that country along with a number of others on charges of kidnapping. Sarkozy flew there himself to talk directly withChad's president Idriss Deby about releasing them and that's just what happened. He did it himself. No dispatching of an ineffective cabinet secretary, no nuclear threats, no sanctions, no preliminary low-level conferences, no nonsense no accusations, no blame seeking.

Do we still make leaders like that? Do we have a candidate less interested in fund raising, power brokering, campaigning and finding jobs for political hacks he owes money to and more interested in leading by example?

Cross posted from Human Voices


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Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Wow. I hadn't heard this. Kind of makes me want to move to France.

4:27:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

We may all have to move somewhere.

10:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did live in France during the 1990s and have given serious thought to going back. I prefered Lionel Jospin (Socialist Party); Sarkozy is actually one of the most conservative of French politicians in recent memory.

Chirac deserves credit for resisting Anglo and American pressure vis a vis Iraq; he was once a conscript in the French army during the Algerian war and understood Islamic fervor better than most. Too bad niether Blair nor Bush listened.

1:14:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Nah, Bush was too busy listening to the voices.

8:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a good segement . bush travels around like caeser. When you even see him, which is rare, he is rarely in a position to do anything like help people in a normal leader-ish way.

I have to say I don't understand frances economic policy. They have the number one tourist destination in the world. Most countries in that situation would simply abolish income tax and charge more for stuff . Places like the bahamas do this. France has like a 50% tax rate. They have so much tourism $$ it doesn't lead to the types of disasters in would in another country but i think it gives them a warped world view. plus, their massive welfare state and open borders immgration policy leads to riots and people setting cars on fire. We'd probably be in the same boat if it wasn't for ronald reagan.

9:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lester, having lived in Paris for several years, things are not as they may seem to neophyte Americans.

France has one of the largest and most diverse populations of any country in the EU (over 60+ million).

The USA allocates less than one half of 1% GDP on arts-related programs. In contrast, France allocates more than 7% - an amount exceeding our pro rata share of GDP spent on defense. Maintaining museums and cultural sites costs money, and there is no free lunch and certainly no windfall.

Tax rates in France are not unlike what the USA had in the 1950s and 60s (a fiscal response to post WWII reconstruction). Tax policy is a matter of what one values in life; the French treasure their arts and culture, and it is not up to Americans to criticize. In France, citizens get more value for money than we do with less demogoguery.

Contrary to your impression, immigration policies are restrictive in France (for instance, I carried a Carte de Sejour, a form of Green card). What American's don't understand is that former colonists do have certain rights under French law, unlike our own indigenous populations who continue to live in legal limbo without police protection.

Sorry to disappoint, Lester, but the USA is not as advanced culturally, socially, or ethically as we like to think of ourselves. The USA can be a very parochial and provincial country with a maddening amount of narrow-mindedness that often gets us inti trouble.

4:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

france doesn't pay anything for it's culture. those museums draw thousands of visitors and thanks to Malreauxs visionary funding of the upkeep of it's historical neighborhoods it is as beautiful today as it's been in the past. but "the past" is the key for france. what have they done lately? besides buy drugs and porno and generally slack off. I'm not dissing France, I just think having high tax rates does not mean you have a vital culture or society (or that you don't). I like those guys who jump around the buildings though. In general I'm more of a survival quotient than intelligence quotient guy. So i'm impressed by ireland and Estonia and places like. grow-y sort of places

10:09:00 AM  

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