David Calling

The David Pryce-Jones blog.

The French Farce


Since I am in Paris, I couldn’t help watching Dominique Strauss-Kahn answering the questions put to him by a television journalist, Claire Chazal. He had not spoken before because he wanted the French to hear him out first. To do a DSK has entered French slang for making a pass, and it is not a compliment. He’d been running the International Monetary Fund and might very well have been elected President of France, and now he’s a bad joke with sexual innuendoes.

Here’s a man who destroyed himself, and that is one of the great themes of classical drama, and that is what he aimed to convey, unsmiling and harsh. At the outset he claimed to have used no violence or constraint. What he’d done, he said, was inappropriate, it was a weakness, or worse than that, a fault, a moral fault. He had wronged his wife and all the French too, coming out with grandiloquence, “I missed my rendezvous with France.”

And what was his opinion of American justice? “I was afraid, I was very afraid.” Legal machinery caught him and might have crushed him. This was too severe. If he hadn’t had money and a rich wife, injustice might well have been done. Which led him to say that the hotel maid kept on changing her story, and was a liar. Chazal mentioned the French novelist Tristane Banon who claims that DSK attacked her like a “rutting chimpanzee.” Did DSK realize how he had shocked women? He had a passage about how he’d never abused the power that went with his position.

He expressed regret when it was obvious that he didn’t feel it, but had the inner conviction that he was someone who was entitled to do exactly as he pleased. Chazal allowed him to end up with a lot of hot air in praise of the Left and socialist candidate Martine Aubry in the presidential elections he won’t be running in. Television exposes character remorselessly. This isn’t a classical drama at all, just a French farce.


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