Here in Paris it is the bright sunny dawn of November 4th - “just the day,” interviewees tell you unselfconsciously on the morning news, “to start liking America again.” It doesn’t matter that the first US election results won’t fall until the small hours tomorrow (a day scheduled with rain.) The French have already elected - anointed - Barack Obama as The US President They Want.
For weeks now, neither newspapers nor radio or television channels have even bothered sending a reporter with the McCain campaign, which they view as best as an irrelevance, and mainly as a useful foil for the Tales of Barack. (Voters repelled by Sarah Palin’s anti-abortion stance? Check. McCain partisans guilty of racism in the voting booth? Check. Gun-totin’ embittered Joe Six-Packs shooting baby fawns from their pick-up trucks on the way to the megachurch? Check.)
Instead, reporters have been dispatched to Harlem to report on the planning of street parties tonight (France Info); to Dixville, NH for the first Democrat victory of the day (“the first since Humbert Humphrey’s candidacy in 1968,” France 2 TV adds helpfully); even to Hawaii for the coming funeral of Madelyn Dunham, the candidate’s grandmother (TF1 TV, which never thinks of mentioning how Mrs Dunham first entered the campaign rhetoric, as a useful comparison to Rev. Wright in terms of racial prejudice.) America, we are told, will finally set an example to the world.
And what if, in a surprise upset, this beloved screenplay is brutally rewritten?
“There will be riots,” pundits pronounce. Those riots, you understand, would be justified. America’s “visible minorities” will have been cheated of their victory. So will ours, who have no hope in the next decade of achieving anything like the US’s political integration. What few Muslims and French-African politicians occupy Cabinet jobs were high-handedly appointed by a right-wing president, Sarkozy, going against established habit and party power plays in apportioning the spoils. Not coincidentally, those same appointees have been the butt of most of the criticism levelled at the government by professional civil service leakers. Rachida Dati, the Justice minister, who is of Algerian/Moroccan origin, has been branded “incompetent”, “unqualified,” and, yes, “a diva.” Fadela Amara, the Housing Undersecretary, a French-Algerian feminist, is “disorganised and can’t run a team.” Sounds familiar?In reality, we Europeans, who pride ourselves on our supposed forward thinking, respect nothing more than Establishment figures. In our reasoning, it is up to you, dear American voters, to provide us with the right Harvard Law School grad of the right colour, to simply start the wheels of change here (and to keep our restless minorities happy in the bargain.) How could you even consider disappointing us? What better motive can there be? Make the Paris MSM and French political party machines time-servers happy! Vote Obama!
© Copyright Hudson Institute New York & Anne-Elisabeth Moutet 2008