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The French Re-Revolution

Perhaps you can tell from the banner of this website that I’m a big fan of the French Revolution. Best. Revolution. Ever. Not that I support mob vengeance and indiscriminate mass executions, but I get a warm glow when I think of starving serfs bucking against the political excesses and conspicuous consumption of the aristocrats by whacking off their heads with a guillotine, which I cannot help but to view as more of an instrument of justice than of death.

Let us not (ironically) forget Santayana’s Aphorism on Repetitive Consequences: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. These are shaky times for French politicians. Given the French citizenry’s particularly terrific history of revolt, I’d recommend that anyone connected with the French government to wear iron scarves and stay clear of bloodthirsty mobs.

France’s leading society magazine is preparing the tumbrel for French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the Italian heiress/pop chanteuse/former oft-naked model whom Sarkozy married shortly after ascending to the Presidency and divorcing his second wife Cecilia. Carla’s penchant for luxury was originally viewed as an asset to Sarkozy’s rather ignoble public persona. But Point de Vue condemns Bruni-Sarkozy as the “new Marie Antoinette” and points out some striking physical and biographical similarities between the two fashion-obsessed socialites, including the “same posture, same look, same smile” (here). Same neck too, perhaps? In any event, the chief difference between the two women is that Bruni-Sarkozy has been with many, many, many, many more men.

Also on the chopping block is Sarkozy’s 23-year-old son Jean Sarkozy, a law student who was recently tipped to head the public agency that oversees Paris’s La Défense, one of Europe’s biggest business districts. Why, the President’s son’s meteoric rise through the ranks of French government is nothing short of amazing! After the public outcry and charges of nepotism, ‘Prince Jean’ backed down from the job (here), though he maintains that he is succeeding based on his own credentials, which is so touchingly naive that it transcends callowness. Whatever. I want to take him home and feed him soup.

Meanwhile, the Mitterand clan — the preeminent ‘royal’ family of the French republic — is faring no better. Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, son of the late socialist president François Mitterrand, was one of 37 people convicted last week of involvement in the illicit sale of $790 million worth of Soviet-made arms to Angola in the 1990s (here). More sensationally, his cousin Frédéric Mitterrand is resisting calls to resign from his post as the French culture minister over mounting public disgust about his 2005 autobiography, in which he described paid encounters with “young boys” in Bangkok (here). Mitterrand admits paying for sex in Thailand, but he claims that he calls all men “boys” and that he was not referring to minors, a defense that might have a sliver of plausibility had he adamantly defended admitted-pedophile Roman Polanski a week earlier. Still, it looks like Mitterrand will survive his Reign of Media Terror with his head if not all of his other appendages intact.

And even former President Jacques Chirac is being hauled out of retirement to stand trial for corruption charges, in which he faces 3 to 10 years under charges that he awarded fake jobs to political allies back when he was the Mayor of Paris (here). Shockingly, 7 out of 10 French believe that Chirac — France’s most beloved living politician — should stand trial. The French are getting feisty, it appears. They’re sharpening the guillotines.

(Sidenote: If America thinks France is a socialist country now, just wait until after the next elections…)

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