How can France's elite sell the EU constitution?asks John Vinocur in the International Herald Tribune.
Two standard French procedures — the anti-American lever that says the Yanks want a unified Europe to fail, and the government tactic to smooth out opposition by giving in to every current demand in the labor arena — are not producing. Neither have the "yes" camp arguments that all of Europe is devastated by the prospect of a French "no," and that a rejection will be catastrophic for France.
On April 14, in a largely botched television outing when Jacques Chirac thought he could turn the tide in a two-hour debate with young people, he grabbed the first 20 minutes to cast the referendum as a showdown between a "humanist" Europe with France at its center, and the cold, mercenary world of the Anglo-Saxons.
Revving up the rhetoric, Chirac described the United States' intention as stopping the construction of Europe. …
On its own initiative, the Bush administration has made it clear that it doesn't like being misrepresented on the constitutional issue by Chirac, all the more since it could not easily be against a treaty that presages Turkey's entry into the EU. Considering a couple of centuries' history of opportunistic anti-Americanism in France, the Bush people might just think their most excruciatingly subtle response would be to say flat out they're in the "yes" camp with Chirac.