“The court has founded a lasting memory in the history of France…[There is] a renaissance of this curial phenomenon even in the midst of our democratic society,” he writes. This residue of “monarchical coloration,” he explains, is largely owed to the larger-than-life founder of “la Grande Nation” that is modern France, Charles de Gaulle.
When Sarkozy, early in his term, cursed out a spectator at an agricultural fair for refusing to shake hands with him, he was breaking the code of the dignity of the French “republican monarchy.” That and his constantly agitational, hand-waving style and habit of chewing out even his closest collaborators, made him come off as not up to the image of the French presidential office.
Along came François Hollande, looking as bland as a provincial bank manager and bearing the nickname of “Monsieur Flanby” (Mr. Pudding) for his softness of manner and his alleged “indecision,” so described by his former companion, Ségolène Royal, who is the mother of their four children.
In the fierce presidential debate of April 27, Mr. Hollande came off as anything but Mr. Flanby. Pugilistic to the point of carrying to extremes his constant interruptions of Sarkozy, he officially wound up in a draw, but in the opinion of this spectator, he seemed to have gained the upper hand by the end of their exchanges: In his incantatory recital of what he would do in various areas as president, Hollande reached a level of lyricism that the more tactical Sarkozy could not, or at any rate did not, match.
The fact that Sarkozy came before the US Congress and stated, “I want to be your friend,” and that he brought France back into the integrated command of NATO, gave him a pass with the American political class that could not be touched.