Skip to comments.What the Strauss-Kahn Incident Reveals About the Inner Workings Of France
Posted on 05/18/2011 3:28:33 PM PDT by Kaslin
International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, known as the "Great Seducer" in his home country of France, flunked out at seducing New York Judge Melissa C. Jackson this week. Instead, she sent him to Rikers Island pending further court appearances in the wake of a Sofitel maid's accusations that he attempted to force his charisma upon her before leaving for the airport and boarding a plane, where authorities arrested him.
I'm in no position to judge the facts of this case. Not only was I not in the hotel room, but my experience with Strauss-Kahn -- or "DSK," as he's known here in France -- is limited to having seen him on the cover of the newspaper France Soir in his capacity as presidential hopeful. I immediately texted to a French friend that the look Strauss-Kahn was giving in the cover photo made my skin crawl. But who am I to judge anything definitively with my gut instinct honed by thousands of years of human evolution? I think I'll let the State of New York apply a more objective test.
But as a Canadian-born political analyst and media commentator who has spent the bulk of her career in America and now lives and works in that same capacity in Paris, it's not the details of this case that I find striking or the most disturbing, but rather what the incident says more globally about French culture and the way things work here.
It would appear that this is France's first real sex scandal. Not that people in power here haven't previously behaved abominably. Jacques Chirac, for instance, once bragged that he loved many women despite being quite obviously married to his long-suffering Bernadette. Centrist President Valery Giscard d'Estaing is alleged to have fathered an extramarital love child with Christine de Veyrac, who's now a European Parliament member. Francois Mitterrand kept a second secret family at taxpayers' expense while he led the country, proving that not even taxpayer burden can justify public exposure of peccadilloes.
Anglo-Saxons, myself included prior to moving here, tend to dismiss the French lackadaisical attitude toward their elite's personal lives as being culturally ingrained. That may be true, but it's a phenomenon that was brought about by strict law as a result of unfortunate history. In the wake of World War II, during which being outed as a Jew meant a trip to the gas chamber, people's personal lives became off-limits. Now, the same law that emerged from the Holocaust is used by celebrities to sue tabloids that publish photos or information related to their love lives without permission. Some stars even hire photographers to take such photos so they can then turn a profit. Still, there's a deep, expressed disgust here for people who blabber about someone's personal faults or private life. In most cases, it's not a bad thing, but it often means that people are loath to point out when private behavior has crossed over into the public sphere and become problematic.
This same respect for privacy has been used to sweep nonsense under the rug to the point of promoting people with stunning pathologies into top-level positions. Upon hearing that a former top political figure had perpetrated a sex crime, one media boss said it was obvious someone was out for revenge against the poor perpetrator since the interior minister -- being in charge of police -- would have otherwise just erased the incident from the books as though it had never happened.
Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet expressed concern this week that the DSK incident would put France in a bad light. It's not as if America is devoid of "great seducers" -- Bill Clinton being the obvious one that comes to mind -- but France takes it to a whole other level of permissiveness, arguably allowing far too much lenience under the guise of "respect for privacy." For example, in a 2008 Gala Magazine article, DSK's wife, journalist Anne Sinclair, was asked whether her husband's reputation as a seducer scared her. "On the contrary, it pleases me," she replied. "I understand he's a seducer. He seduced me! And that doesn't scare me, we know each other well."
But in the paragraph just above, the article explained how DSK's "young university economics students were regularly warned of the tastes of the mayor of Sarcelles for alcove adventures." As a professor at an elite French university myself, I'd fully expect to be shown the door if I ever started engaging in "alcove stories" with students, rather than have it dismissed as some kind of personal quirk. That right there is exactly where the private sphere ends and the professional and public spheres begin. I certainly wouldn't expect the president of France to promote me to be the head of a world governing body given that kind of propensity for inappropriate behavior.
Not that this hands-off approach to the personal sphere is taken when a spirited public defense is called for. On the contrary: Rather than just taking a wait-and-see, "no comment," "it's his personal life" or "I have no idea" approach, elites from all sides, and with very few exceptions, are manifesting either a deep cognitive dissonance or self-preservation in the event that the behind they are kissing makes its way back across the Atlantic and into a position that could affect them. DSK's biographer, Michael Taubmann, said that "a seducer seeks to seduce and not to force," so therefore DSK "doesn't have the profile of a rapist." DSK supporter and former presidential candidate Segolene Royale is pleading for people to not add to the crisis.
Far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen, who has never until now enjoyed enough power to have to bother kissing anyone's behind, declared to "have not been surprised" and "not fallen off my chair" at the DSK news.
Parti Radical advisor Dominique Paille hinted at a possible setup, or DSK "slipping on a banana peel." The idea has since been echoed by Socialist Party members and commenters on French websites. It's also the most prevalent comment I've heard from people in the streets of Paris. Not to say that the details of the case as they've currently been laid out favor a conspiracy theory. But the French equate convoluted complexity with a high level of intelligence. That a man of such prominence could simply get caught with his pants down isn't the first likelihood that comes to the mind of an "intelligent" Frenchman. Occam's razor is reserved for Anglo-Saxon simpletons. So I've been regaled with various theories related to the possible perpetrators: the Greeks upon whom DSK was just about to foist deep austerity through the IMF; Nicolas Sarkozy; DSK's potential opponents for the Socialist Party presidential ticket within his own party; the Freemasons; the Illuminati; the "globalists"; the Bilderbergs ...
If this incident had happened here in France rather than in the USA, I guarantee that we wouldn't be hearing about it at all. If there's something the French ought to ponder, it's that.
DSK's father is the wealthy Gilbert Strauss-Kahn, a legal and tax advisor and member of the Grand Orient de France ...........the largest of several Masonic organizations in France and the oldest in Continental Europe, founded in 1733.
Unlike their American counterparts, European masons are very involved in politics......and were supposedly involved in the bloody French Revolution.
She makes some OK points but I think misses the larger and more important point. And probably one that Freepers instinctively get.
The key here is that despite all the French rhetoric of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality and their pride in their revolutionary past, France remains a profoundly class-based society with sharp lines drawn between the various classes.
This sort of thing dates back to the feudal days where the Lord of the Manor could exercise his Droits de Seigneur whenever he chose.
If the incident had happened in France proper it would likely never have seen the light of day but given that it happened here - well bad luck for DSK.
The irony is that the French have to be brought kicking and screaming into alignment with their national slogan.
$35,000 a month (more than $1000 a day), plus over $6 Grand a month in mad money!
Not a bad gig if you can get it.
EU, IMF agree $1 trillion emergency fund
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Global policymakers unleashed an emergency rescue package worth about $1 trillion to stabilize world financial markets and prevent the Greek debt crisis from destroying the euro currency.
The rescue, hammered out by European Union finance ministers, central bankers and the International Monetary Fund in marathon talks at the weekend, was the largest package in over two years since G20 leaders threw money at the global economy following the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
The size of the package surprised financial analysts and the euro rose close to 2 percent while stocks in Asia firmed.
The U.S. Federal Reserve reopened currency swap lines with several central banks and Group of Seven and Group of 20 finance ministers weighed in with their backing for the measures.
EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn told a news conference the package of measures “proves we shall defend the euro whatever it takes.”
The emergency measures are worth much more than any previous attempts by the 27-country EU or the 16-state single-currency group to calm markets.
They come after the Greek crisis drove sovereign debt yields and insurance on this debt to record levels.
Financial markets had started to punish other euro zone debt of members with bloated budgets such as Portugal, Spain and Ireland, in what Sweden’s finance minister described as “wolfpack behaviours.”
The $1 trillion package consists of 440 billion euros in guarantees from euro area states, plus 60 billion euros in a European instrument.
A trillion dollars from WHERE??
Much of it from the IMF. The U.S. comprises about 2/3rds of the IMF...so the U.S. taxpayers will pay about 2/3rds of the IMF contribution to the Greek bailout.