Since the start of his presidency, and even before it when he was only a minister, the French head of state has repeatedly demonstrated poor judgment when dealing with important issues. Exacerbated by an overinflated ego, insufferable arrogance and contempt, and a total lack of dignity, this problem has undermined Sarkozy’s stature at home and abroad, and resulted in a major public lack of confidence, as demonstrated by the opinion polls. That is not to say his analysis of political problems is necessarily always wrong; it is his inability to propose solutions with tact and diplomacy which has made him so disliked.
Putting aside the ill advised comment about using a high powered water jet to clean up the rabble in the housing estates inhabited by a mainly Arab immigrant population when minister of the interior, examples of Sarkozy’s poor judgment as president started with the choice of disgraced former prime minister Alain Juppé as number two in his new government. Humiliated in an election Juppé had to bow out and remain on the sidelines for three years, because of a ruling that ministers had to prove they had the public’s confidence. Next was the choice of Rachida Dati, who has dual French and Moroccan nationality, as justice minister. The problem wasn’t the woman’s Arab origin, it was the fact that her two brothers had been condemned for drug offenses which made her unsuitable for the job.
The financial crisis had not yet raised its ugly head when Sarkozy, in a hurry to introduce as many reforms as possible in the shortest possible time, decided to give enormous tax advantages to France’s richest people. So unproductive did this turn out to be that the ruling party, in light of the global crisis, now wants to abolish it. As if all this wasn’t a bad enough start to his presidency, fear of criticism in the press and on television led the little dictator to get rid of respected journalists who asked difficult questions, and replace them with harmless kowtowing ones, thanks to personal friends who just happened to be media barons.
The dismantling of France’s justice system, starting with a reform introduced by Rachida Dati intended to save money and make it more accountable to the government, has led to a major row with judges and attorneys. Fond of blaming people for errors and misdoing without due proof, Sarkozy has even managed to upset the law enforcement organizations, namely the gendamerie and the CRS riot police, with unreasonable interference in their affairs. Can a president who has lost the confidence of his country’s justice system be considered credible? Sarkozy, whose recent ill-founded criticism caused a week-long shutdown of the nation’s civil and criminal courts, has only himself to blame for his unpopularity.
Amid a series of scandals involving political corruption, (Karachi, Angola-gate, Woerth-Bettencourt, Clearstream, etc.) the embattled president, desperate to find a scapegoat for his problems, decided to turn public attention away from his failings by introducing a debate about national identity. Hoping to attract the votes of the right wing National Front party, he started criticizing Islam and expelling gipsies, thus inviting a comparison with Marshall Pétain’s Vichy government during the second world war. Except that Arabs have now replaced the Jews as the reason for the nation’s woes, which the Zionist community unsurprisingly does not condemn.
The latest in a long line of examples of floored judgment is the case of a Frenchwoman, condemned for kidnapping and sentenced to sixty years imprisonment in Mexico. Based on suspicions that Florence Cassez had not been judged correctly and might be innocent, Sarkozy wants to dedicate France’s Mexican Year festival to her. Naturally, Mexico’s president Felipe Calderon does not appreciate this unstatesmanlike behavior, and has threatened not to participate in the event. Although things are now calming down, it shows to what degree bad judgment can have disastrous consequences at international level. How unfortunate therefore that the man who is to preside over G8 and G20 this year lost all credibility on account of it.