This is one of DSK’s new sobriquets, thanks to the New York tabloid press (Daily News & Post; the latter, as could be expected, is going to town on this). Others include the “randy Frenchman,” “naked pervert, “whiny fat cat,” the “aging lothario”… God, this is bad. Quelle humiliation, pour lui et pour la France. Et de se trouver au commissariat de Harlem… C’est un peu l’équivalent d’être mis en détention provisoire à Bobigny, avec des loubards et d’autre caillera du neuf-trois… Manuel Valls expressed a prevailing sentiment in today’s Times of London: “I’ve been in politics for 30 years but I’ve never seen anything like this and I’ve never felt anything like this. The images this morning [of DSK in handcuffs] are of an intolerable cruelty. I had tears in my eyes.” I can relate.
Not everyone has tears in their eyes, though. Bernard Debré—pas une référence politique pour moi—a tapé très durement sur DSK hier dans un billet de son blog (et revient à la charge aujourd’hui dans L’Express). Ça a provoqué un tollé à gauche mais sans partager le langage enflammé de Debré il y a de quoi être en colère contre DSK. Beaucoup de Français—moi compris—le soutenaient, espérant qu’il serait élu Président de la République en 2012. Maintenant c’est foutu en l’air. Et j’apprends par la voie de Facebook que des Grecs ont vu en lui leur meilleur défenseur. Ils sont atterrés par ce qui s’est passé.
Philip Gourevitch has a good commentary on the New Yorker web site, where he justly points out that the “only politician who seemed to know exactly what to say when the news broke was Marine Le Pen”…
Et voici un point de vue pertinent dans Slate.fr, “Affaire DSK: présomption d’innocence ou victime disqualifiée?”
UPDATE: Charles Bremner weighs in on his blog on The Times of London web site:
Charles Bremner May 16 2011 6:55 PM
France got a shock lesson in the American system today when it saw Dominique Strauss-Kahn being marched out of the New York City police station in handcuffs. Near disbelief greeted the image of France’smost distinguished international official and favourite until Sunday for the 2012 presidency slouching unshaven between police officers like a vulgar crook. In France, VIP suspects are whisked out unseen from back exits in cars with tinted windows. This looked, in many French eyes, like deliberate American humiliation of a respected and popular statesman.
Experts explained on radio and TV that the “perp walk”, famous from Tom Wolfe’s 1987 novel Bonfire of the Vanities, was a ritual which New York law-enforcers inflict on celebrity suspects. They also sketched the “rough-and-ready” side of the American justice system, with elected prosecutors who relish high-profile trials. It was to little avail, judging by the chatter on phone-ins and in cafes and work-places. For much of France the manhandling of “DSK” confirmed that he is the victim of a murky business with high political stakes. Even those ready to believe that he may not be wholly innocent of sexual delinquency were ready to see a darker side to the affair that is now known as “bistougate”, which translates as “willygate”.
The reaction is understandable, given France’s ancestral belief in conspiracy and the way that the internet has amplified the view that nothing happens by chance. In this case there is a rich choice for the role of the hidden hand which supposedly entrapped Strauss-Kahn. It could have been Sarkozy, DSK’s Socialist party rivals, the US government, “international financial circles”, or indeed all of them at the same time, as one of his party colleagues suggested. The culprit is covered by the useful pronoun “on” as in “on a eu DSK” — “They got DSK”.
The mechanics of the supposed set-up with the chambermaid are rarely explained, like the details of how the British Secret Service “murdered” the late Princess of Wales in Paris in 1997. The important thing was the outcome — instant demolition of the top electoral rival to Sarkozy and humiliation of France on the world stage. Evidence of the American profit from the “crime” was visible in the gloating New York tabloid headlines about the “French perv” nabbed for sex crime, so the theory goes.
The popular denial and suspicion may fade if evidence emerges. The ‘affaire DSK’ may even mark a watershed for France, showing that the law can be applied to the private behaviour of public figures without ulterior motives and hidden hands. Libération, the leftwing daily explained: “France is experiencing its first ‘sex-scandal à l’anglo-saxonne’ and is brutally entering a zone of public debate which until now was confined to rumours and gossip among a little circle of initiates.”
As you will have read, Strauss-Kahn’s impulse to seduce has got him into trouble before. It was not a secret. We first talked about it on this blog nearly three years ago. I got to know and like DSK at the time when he used to socialise with journalists in Brussels in the late 1990s. He was Finance Minister then. We would never have guessed that he was capable of the violence alleged in the New York charge sheet today. The conspiracy theories are far-fetched. Perhaps there is some other explanation. It’s sad to see a man apparently throw away so much. I’ll come back on this later when the dust settles a bit.