Wednesday, January 21, 2009

French model

Up until now, I had imagined naively that the overall political style of Barack Obama was something that he and his team of advisors had forged from scratch. So, I was taken aback by allegations in the French press, over the last 24 hours, from our Socialist diva, Ségolène Royal.

Basically, she contends, with no mean pride, that Obama would have borrowed certain political principles and communication techniques from the former French presidential candidate herself. Madame Royal visited Washington for Obama's inauguration, but it appears to have been a private excursion, and one should not fall into the trap of imagining that the French lady had been invited there by anybody in Obama's milieu.

When Ségo tries to explain the exact concepts that might have been copied, I find her words rather fuzzy. She mentions, first and foremost, her win/win strategy, according to which both employers and employees should have something to gain as an outcome of advantages accorded to one or the other party. Frankly, I find this example a bit far-stretched, in that everybody knows that this concept comes directly from game theory, which was essentially a US invention of sixty years ago. She talks, too, of her expert citizen concept, related to the old-fashioned populist notions that ordinary people (like the customer) are always right, that trained specialists tend to become robotic administrators, that common sense will always prevail, and that a naive down-to-earth approach to problem solving in society can produce results almost magically. To my mind, this kind of talk rings a little like the Christian notion of the meek and mild inheriting the Earth. As Madame Royal once dared to affirm, children never tell lies. Has Obama's team really decided to implement Ségolène Royal's system of so-called participative democracy?

According to the French Socialist lady, it was in 2007, when she was campaigning against Nicolas Sarkozy, that Barack Obama sent a team of his advisors to Paris to study, among other things, her website named Désir d'avenir [future desire]. It's highly likely that Ségolène's belief that she inspired Obama should be placed in the category of wishful thinking, accompanying Sarkozy's dubious allegation, not so long ago, that Obama was his copain [mate]...

BREAKING NEWS: Ségolène Royal explains that, in her remark about Obama copying French methods, she had been replying flippantly, jokingly, to a journalist's question during a press conference she had organized in Washington just after Obama's inauguration. "Concerning the campaign and the use of Internet, it's no doubt we who should be inspired by Barack Obama and maybe copy him now and again." She added: "The force of the event we've lived through here and elsewhere in the world has impressed me... but it didn't cause me to lose my wits!" The least I can say is that Ségo has a talent for screwing things up from time to time by using inappropriate words.

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