In France they kiss on main street, Joni Mitchell sang – or so say the liner notes. Who can tell from that cystitis-attack warble of hers?
Anyway, it will serve as a working summary of French politics, which has been transfixed this past week by contemplation of Nicholas “Sarko” Sarkozy, who is coming up to his one hundredth day in power, the event celebrated by publication in le Nouvel Observatuer of a huge profile of the man by playwright Yazmin Reza.
Reza – whose plays such as Art combine boulevard farce style with more philosophical reflections on life, death, identity etc – was on the campaign trail with Sarko for a year, with an agreement not to publish anything until the election had concluded.
Not that it would have mattered much, even if she’d revealed him to be a North Korean agent with a fossilized baby in his briefcase. The French can’t get enough of Sarko and his exuberant style, more American than French in many ways.
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His clever move in tacking immediately to the centre post-election – tempting socialists such as Bernard Kouchner into cabinet, playing down pre-election remarks about changing the work culture of France, etc etc – has undermined any possible opposition the Socialist Party or the unions could drum up.
Which is lucky, because Reza’s profile reveals him to be a colossus of vanity, very funny (“its the last week of the campaign and I’ve just spent three hours in a bunker in Brittany looking at a f-cking map!” he rails at his advisors. “Who gives a f-ck about Brittany!”) but obsessed by appearance – at one point an advisor, seeing him reading the paper, asks him his opinions of the story on the page he’s perusing – a little showy he says, referring to Rolex watch displayed in all its glory on the page beside.
Much post-profile media speculation centred on the relationship between Sarko and Reza. Did he try and seduce her?
“He was too busy seducing France”, Reza grumbled, “honestly you spend a year with a man and he doesn’t try and seduce you – it’s almost insulting”.
Ah, La France, que j’aime.
And of course you could make comparisons between this sort of politics – ie. that involving adults – and the deathful, repressed, neurotic fuss about Krudd snatching a few hours entertainment at Scores that passes for current Australian commentary. But Sarkofuss reminded me that we weren’t always like that.
Who can forget Gough’s remark (as relayed in Mungo MacCallum’s classic “Mungo on the Zoo Plane”) that the only reason to go to Tasmania was the chance of picking up a bit of double-headed f-llatio?
Or the time, allegedly, that Mick Young brought a girl around to the Lodge for a late night drink after they’d seen Last Tango in Paris – at which point a tired Whitlam arranged for the butler to serve a pat of butter on a salver and bade his goodnights?
Or Hawke “sacking his girlfriend and rehiring his wife” in 1983, after running the ACTU from the saloon bar of the John Curtin? Or the fact that Whitlam and Gorton’s advisors were in and out of each other’s hammocks like Canberra was s-x camp all through 68, 69? And so on.
Yet what Strippergate revealed is that the Oz public hasn’t changed significantly. They don’t give a rat’s, and the only reason the thing played for so long is because News Ltd has been taken over by a bunch of creepy men with more hang-ups than a walk-in wardrobe.
When you look in the mirror and Glenn Milne stares back (up) at you, it’s time to get a new mirror. Indications are that the Oz public has.