Saturday, September 03, 2005

Reasonable Frogs

Pejman Yousefzadeh has an interesting post (via Instapundit) about French politics. He links to two fascinating articles. One appeared in Foreign Policy in July and is about Nicolas Sarkozy:
Nicolas Sarkozy has become the most popular French politician by diving headfirst into the country’s most explosive political issues. If he has his way, this hyperactive, pro-American, Gaullist, free marketer will transform French politics for good.
When Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California in 2003, all French politicians sneered, except one. For Nicolas Sarkozy, the leader of a center-right Gaullist party and the son of a Hungarian refugee, the rise to power of the Austrian-born Hollywood star was a sure sign of modernity. Commenting soon after Schwarzenegger’s election victory, Sarkozy said, “ [that] someone who’s a foreigner in his country, who has an unpronounceable name and can become governor of the biggest American state—that is not nothing!”
The other appeared in Reason in October 2003 and is about Sabine Herold:
But Sabine Herold, to put it mildly, is not your typical Frog. Herold, the 22-year-old leader of Liberté, J’ecris Ton Nom (Freedom, I Write Your Name), has in the last few months emerged as the massively popular and highly photogenic leader of -- zut! -- a burgeoning pro-market, pro-American counterculture in France. Earning comparisons to Joan of Arc, Brigitte Bardot (!), and Margaret Thatcher in the panting British press, she represents something French politics hasn’t seen in years: a public figure eager to take on the country’s endlessly striking unions.
It is startling to hear any Parisienne, let alone a college student, drop references to F. A. Hayek in casual conversation, describe Communists as "disgusting," or lead pro-war demonstrations in front of the American Embassy. Herold is fond of issuing heretical statements guaranteed to make any good fonctionnaire’s skin crawl.
"I think you have no legitimacy [as a politician] if you’ve never worked," she tells me during a phone interview in July. "I don’t want to be a kind of apparatchik. I think if you’re not able to do things for yourself, or show that you can help a company, how can you help the state?" She supports gay marriage and legalizing pot, reputedly whips up a mean five-course meal, and uses the word libertarian as the highest possible compliment.
I wonder what she is up to now. At any rate both articles are well worth reading.

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