Today’s commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Normandy landings was Sarko’s only chance to play up his friendship with Obama. Despite the fact that the friendship is wholly imaginary, Sarkozy hoped the beauty-glow of America’s Political Idol would somehow boost his party’s chances tomorrow in France’s EU parliamentary elections. He needs to do something to spark a turnout; the French don’t seem very interested in deciding who should represent them in Brussels, where unaccounted expense charges average about a million euros per parliamentarian, what with the cost of parking and all.
I look for anti-EU candidates, such as those led by Philippe de Villiers’ MPF-Libertas coalition, to embarrass Sarkozy by exceeding modest expectations. The anti-EUists have already scored a victory in Holland, where Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration party has gained support, and in Sweden, where voters quite rightly think the most important thing the EU can do is deal with pop-music file sharing, which is why they’re sending Pirate Party members to Brussels.
Unfortunately for Sarko, the Obama visit was a bust and watching Sarkozy and Obama do the U.S.-French friendship dance before visiting the American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, you realize that the best Sarkozy can do this visit is snag a photo-op or two — not always a great idea, as this shot shows.
Last night, as the Times’ Charles Bremner reported, the Obamas declined a dinner invitation at the Elysee. So at a press conference this morning, a droll reporter asked Obama why he stiffed Sarko. Obama said he wished he could take long strolls by that river and go for picnics in the park, but his schedule! Totally jammed! And anyway, if he needed to talk to Nicolas, he could use the phone. Sitting next to him, an irritated Sarkozy lost another inch or two. At least Obama didn’t add that his wife’s first name is more French than Mrs. Sarkozy’s.
I don’t know how much of the Normandy commemoration was televised in the U.S., but actually, compared to the row after row of still-tough American vets of D-Day gathered at Colleville, the Obamas and the Sakozys and those meaningless European parliamentarians all seem a trifle tiny. In fact, looking at all those American heroes back on that beach in France, it’s hard for the rest of us to feel terribly gigantic at all.