The perfect moment, then, for NPR to air an in-depth analysis of the Chirac-Sarkozy show-down. "The whole country seems to be on the edge of its seat," said Liane Hansen. Sure about that one, Liane? Before midday on Saturday, Bison Futé had recorded a total of 334 km of traffic jams on French highways.
It was interesting to hear from Nicholas Domenach, who said, "we live in a republican monarchy in France and Sarkozy is committing regicide."
However, it was disappointing to hear NPR's Eleanor Beardsley repeat the trite half-truth about the initial 1995 dust-up between Sarkozy and Chirac which so many people suppose started it all: Chirac wasn't angry because Sarko supported Balladur... or at any rate, not just because he supported Balladur. Sarkozy supported Balladur because the two were angry: Sarkozy had abruptly broken off his wedding engagement to Claude Chirac. Guy Birenbaum writes (p. 98) about this widespread misunderstanding, lamenting the
political disputes and other internal frictions that are experienced by all parties and which most of the time are 'sold' to the public as so many battles among men and women, mechanical clashes, conflicts of trends, if not of ideology when, at the outset, they cover over banal personal matters. [...] In February 2003, when the tensions between the Elysée Palace, Bernadette Chirac and the minster of the Interior seemed to be rising again, only Eric Mandonnet of the magazine L'Express would describe the real cause of the dust-up: 'I will never forgive him because he has penetrated my privacy,' he quotes Chirac as saying crudely [... Eric Mandonnet, "Chirac-Sarkozy: la guerre froide," L'Express, 30 janvier 2003]