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William Jefferson Sarkozy


Republicans in the United States are giddy over this weekend’s electoral victory by the center-Right candidate Nicolas Sarkozy in the French elections. But those who believe that we’ve found the Gaul reincarnation of Ronald Reagan may be disappointed to learn that Sarkozy is more Bill Clinton than George W. Bush.

In what feels like a rainy season for Republican commentators like Larry Kudlow, the election of Sarkozy is a silver lining. To many conservatives in America, the message sent by French voters this weekend is that, without the cloud of war hanging over the Bush Administration, even the hated French are affirming conservative values.

That is a heartening message. But it is also a misunderstanding of the Sarkozy candidacy.

On paper, Sarkozy’s platform looks quite similar to the optimist campaign run by George Bush in 2000. Sarko-economics would cut marginal tax rates, practically eliminate the death tax and control the growth of civil service. If those ideas ring familiar, it is because they were at the heart of President Bush’s campaign seven years ago.

But I, for one, was never quite comfortable with the President-elect of France after hearing his acceptance speech at his Party convention in France. His policies seemed to me to be disjointed, as if they lacked a philosophy or vision to guide him.

Take a look at what he proposes for France on his website, (according to the Google translation-bot with some help from yours truly):

1. To put an end to the public impotence

2. An irreproachable democracy

3. To overcome unemployment

4. To rehabilitate work ethic

5. To increase the purchasing power

6. Europe must protect in globalization

7. Address the crisis of sustainable development

8. To promote homeownership among the French

9. To transmit the reference marks of the authority, the respect and the merit

10. A school which guarantees the success of all students

11. To have the best higher education and research in the world

12. To leave the difficult districts the relegation and spiral of violence.

13. To control immigration

14. Great policies of solidarity, fraternal and responsible

15. Proud to be French

Mais, oui!

Many of these policies would sound familiar to Republicans who listened to George Bush, from “No Child Left Behind” to immigration reform to the ownership society. But others really do not sound conservative at all. It’s more like taking pages from the Democratic playbook. Others – proud to be French? – sound like political mish-mosh designed to appeal to those who are too lazy to think about what, if anything they mean.

Sarkozy took one issue directly from his opponent, Segolene Royal. Neither seemed to notice the irony of promoting a, “stronger Europe to protect,” France from globalization. Working together, Europe has been able to strengthen the economies of all of its members with free movement of goods and people. So, now the thinking goes, since free trade of goods and labor has worked so well, Europe should now put a barrier around fortress Europe to keep the world from seeing such economic growth! That makes sense to me. Not!

Then again, I am not French.

But with his election, I realized why Nicolas Sarkozy rubs me the wrong way – he is essentially a French Bill Clinton. He’ll triangulate away the core values of his party if it will make him popular.

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 9:14 AM | Permalink

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