Friday, April 3, 2009

Sarko's moment finally comes

El Universal has this picture, and the caption that reads that France will accept prisoners from Guantánamo.

Sarko's moment finally came. After months of frustration during which the White House stayed cool to the entreaties of the French President, Barack Obama stood alongside Nicolas Sarkozy today and showered him with praise.

You could feel the joy radiating from Sarko as the pair proclaimed a new era of Franco-American unity on the steps of the Palais des Rohan, the old bishop's palace in Strasbourg.

After an hour's tête-à-tête, his first with the new US President, Sarkozy struck an unusually solemn and statesmanlike tone as he opened their joint press conference referring to "The President of the United States" and addressing "President Obama" with the formal 'vous'. But Sarko's excitable nature got the better of him and he closed trembling with emotion, using the the intimate "tu" and calling him "une sacrée bonne nouvelle" -- bloody good news -- for the world.

Bloody good, mate.

Sarko being Sarko, he could also not resist chucking a couple of stones in the direction of his former great friend George W. Bush. He contrasted, without naming him, Bush's closed, America-centric outlook with Obama's open-minded model and talked about the "terrorist methods" which the Bush team had used on the detainees of Guantanamo Bay.

W is yesterday's news.

It was fascinating watching the pair: Obama grave, measured and still alongside the much shorter, energetic and punchy French leader. The monolingual Sarkozy also ventured timidly into English, saying "okay" to US journalists several times.


Obama was greeted like a hero by the crowds that were allowed to get close to him as the French security forces locked down the deserted centre of Strasbourg. While their husbands were doing business, Carla Bruni lunched with Michelle Obama and showed her around town. Bruni stayed away from London as the US First Lady took the spotlight, but the Elysée Palace is deploying her in Strasbourg as a sure bet for enhancing Sarko's moment in the sun.

To end, the Elysée is delighted by the Francophiles in Obama's entourage. General James Jones, his National Security Adviser, grew up in France as the son of a US marine officer and attended a lycée in the Paris suburb of Saint Germain-en-Laye. He always talks in French with Jean-David Levitte, Sarkozy's foreign affairs director. Antony Blinken, National Security Adviser to Vice-President Biden, also studied at a Paris Lycée and Sciences-Po, the top political science college. Philip Gordon, Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, is an academic France expert who translated the US edition of Testimony, the manifesto-memoir that Sarkozy's published during his 2007 campaign.

Emphasis added. I wonder, does Sernator Shelby know about all these Francophiles in the Administration?

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