With Barack Obama having largely backed the United States out of the alliance’s airborne support of Libya’s anti-Qaddafi rebels, France now plays something very close to the lead rolestates John Vinocur in his International Herald Tribune.
By Élysée Palace logic, underpinned by Germany’s skipping out on joining the interdiction force, France has turned the war into a demonstration of its unique and pre-eminent role managing both Europe’s defense pillar (with Britain) and its economic stewardship (albeit as a German junior partner).
…An unidentified voice, sounding remarkably like Mr. Sarkozy’s, said in a conversation with Pierre Rousselin of Le Figaro over the weekend that [the] French seemed proud that their country was active on the international scene and getting recognition for it — which was fine for morale.
I take that as meaning that any trace of bankable, politically fungible fallout from the lovely war doesn’t exist for now. In the Sarkozyian frame of reference, which leans toward triumphalism, that’s no small measure of circumspection.
In fact, reality says there isn’t a poll anywhere that foresees the president’s re-election.
… The buzzword these days to characterize the country’s feelings about Mr. Sarkozy is “désamour” — meaning disaffection, but closer, really, to the blank coldness that can come at the end of an affair.
Thinking I might get a dose of urbane, intelligent counterspin on this from the chief of the Gaullist party, I asked Jean-François Copé for his take on “désamour.”
He replied, “The word fits the situation. We’ve got to deal with it.”
… Various projections on the first-round outcome indicate the president could be eliminated from reaching the head-to-head final, with a significant part of his support having gone to Marine Le Pen of the extreme-right National Front. She seems to be succeeding in giving an aura of respectability to the party, whose anti-immigrant pitch was embedded for decades in a vocabulary reeking of racism and anti-Semitism.