Tondar's Daily Rant

Prepare yourself for the writings of Tondar the Destroyer, Baron of Atlanta, Rightful Heir to the Throne of Spain, from whom all babies come. As his will be blogged, so let it be done.

Monday, October 29, 2007


From Seth...

I'm still wary of Nicolas Sarkozy because of his racialist comments during the campaign. But fortunately, he's been successful on the fronts where we wanted him to be, and done little of the Frenchification he was talking about.

The sense I'm getting, on that front, is that Sarkozy needed to placate the conservative base, which holds to Frenchness the way the American conservative base clings to Christianity. But like the religious right in America, what the cultural crusaders have in fervor, the French inclusives more than make for in numbers.

The part of Sarkozy I like is where he's been the most successful, even more than I ever dreamed. He's giving France the economic kick in the butt it's needed since Pompidou -- a Dave Dombrowski coming in to clean up after 30 years of Randy Smith. I got to see one such battle between Sarkozy and his people this week during the trasportation strike. Strikes have been a power in France since I started going there, but I've never seen someone really stand up against them. They're nothing like the U.S. strikes, where the workers are as anxious to get back to work as the bosses -- at times they're seen as almost vacations.

But Sarkozy planned his rollback of the 35-hour work week perfectly: when France was the host to the international rugby championships. So when the inevitable transportation strike began, it was pissing off all the sports fans. As the week progressed, so did the strike, but you could see the regular Francais coming around to Sarkozy (in the perhaps 20 French strikes I've witnessed firsthand, the general Parisian was on the side of the workers, until now). At the beginning of this strike, German transportation workers jumped on board, but then more and more of the French transportation workers started crossing the lines. The strike's still going, but it's spirit is already broken. That's huge.

It's seldom we see a politician who campaigns for radical reform and then actually has the will, the balls and tirelessness to pursue it. I think we're seeing it in Sarkozy. I'm actually impressed. And as he learns to pick his battles better, I foresee him actually having a lot more success in making France an economic power again. There's hardly a better time for it, with the Euro trashing the dollar and Europe becoming the center for 21st century technology.

He's certainly not the type of politician who would have success in America -- we're not too hip on overconfrontational, twice-divorced radicals these days. But I think one reason the Socialists have been able to run rampant over French economics for so long is that the conservatives couldn't shake their stodgy, Gaullist image. Well, this fella ain't stodgy, and he ain't Gaullist. And so long as his admittedly scary cultural protectionism is kept in check by the French, I think he'll end up being great for that country.


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