Enough of Sarkozy’s Antics!

Has the on-going soap opera that is the personal life of the French president finally started rubbing you the wrong way, too? I mean, you can only gape at the stark contrast Nicolas Sarkozy presents to the conduct of his predecessor. I’m hardly trying to say that Jacques Chirac was any model of personal rectitude, but at least he tried to keep his own little transgressions (which apparently were of a financial nature) out of the public eye.

Now the French newspaper Libération reports that unease over the president’s conduct is starting to be reflected at high levels in the government. Specifically, Jean-Louis Debré, president of the Conseil constitutionnel (the Constitutional Council: an official body of “wise men” – and women – who advise the government on the constituionality of most laws before they can actually go in to effect) let slip the opinion last Sunday that “there was a certain behavior that was expected” of the French president, and that “one should take care not to desecrate official functions.”

But it did not take long before Debré was publicly (if metaphorically) jumped upon for his impertinence by Sarkozy allies, specifically two ex-premiers from the governing UMP party, Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Edouard Balladur, who both went on French TV to assert that there was also a certain behavior expected of the president of the Conseil constitutionnel, namely that he should shut up. And anyway, as Raffarin added, now that the président de la République was safely a married man again, we could expect a return to stability in his behavior.

Ah yes, one can finally speak again about serious things, as an editorial in the same publication by Didier Pourquery sighed in only half-serious relief. And about time, too, since public approval for what Pourquery calls un président bling-bling has gone seriously southward recently, as reflected in his poll numbers. Now that the president’s “engagement” period is over, Pourquery suggests, it is past time for some re-engagement with the public affairs of the nation that he was elected to conduct, as the French people become more and more overtly upset at a buzzing “omnipresident” (clever pun, no?) who has shown himself to be so ineffective.

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