Andrew, if l’affaire Strauss-Kahn continues to develop in the way it’s been doing in the last couple of days, we may be in for a remarkable denouement. Throughout the story, even before the maid’s account began unraveling, French public opinion has been overwhelmingly supportive of DSK — to the point that Bill Keller, editor of the New York Times, professed mystification as to why the sophisticated Continental statists he and his readers admire so much were not “ideologically empathetic to an African hotel maid.” Any man who could write that sentence will have difficulty, as I wager Mr. Keller will, in understanding why Bernard-Henri Lévy regards the argument as repugnantly Dreyfussian.
As I say, Dominque’s numbers were boffo when the empathetic African maid was credible. If she’s not, they’re only going to go up. Sarko, on the other hand, is in the doldrums poll-wise, and you’d have to be an optimist to figure there’s anything in the Euro-economic offing this next year to perk him up. Some polls show him being beaten by Marine Le Pen, the new gal strongman of the Front National. If that trend continues, the French left will want their strongest candidate back in the game. Suppose the maid’s story is a crock, or it was consensual, or she was turning tricks (as some reports suggest): None of these versions would disqualify a man from public office in France, and in this case, after Gallic revulsion at what they regard as a grotesque New York judicial circus, they’d probably be a plus.
So in a year or so’s time the president of France could be sitting across the G7/NATO/Security Council table from the president of the United States whose cops (foreigners care naught for state-federal niceties) put him through the perp walk and whose judges tossed him in Riker’s Island for the best part of a week. Dunno what that portends for Franco-American relations . . .
(Full disclosure, since Andrew did so: Here was my take that first week.)