I thought about writing this as an update to my previous post about L'Affaire Clearstream but I think it is probably worth a separate entry. In my update to the previous I linked to Charles Bremner's astute comments on the subject where he seems to be saying that no one really wants this scandal to grow. I have no doubt that l'Escroc and his cronies want the thing to go away, because there really doesn't seem to be any way that they can emerge from any investigation with anything other than discredit. Indeed the more poking that goes on the more the blasé French public will be reminded of just how sleazy l'Escroc & co are. One suspects that, as Charles hints, the limited coverage on French TV about this has not been a coincidence, but while the TV channels may be limiting their coverage, other media outlets certainly are not. The print outlets are all over this and, possibly more relevantly, so are the internet outlets. From yahoo to a miscelleny of blogs, the details and comments are there and the politicians seem eager to comment to anyone who will listen. I note that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a former socialist finance minister was on TF1 calling Clearstream a French Watergate (wonder if he read my blog?) and I suspect that, despite, the best efforts of l'Escroc this scandal is not going to die down.
However the next question is do the other parties want a change of prime minister or would they prefer to stick with the current lame duck? I can well believe that while the socialists want l'Escroc & co discredited they don't actually want a major change in the government because they run the risk of having someone compentant (i.e. Sarko aka Nick the Gnome) instead. But on the other hand they may also feel that getting Sarko in as PM where he has to interact with l'Escroc could make him more vulnerable because it is almost certain that l'Escroc will spend much time and effort stabbing Sarko in the back.
So the big question is does Sarko want the scandal to continue or not? I suspect that Sarko may well want this story to go and I have quite a lot of respect for his tactical and strategic thinking even if sometimes I dislike it. For example during the recent CPE protests he was remarkably silent and that has led some people to think that he wishes to maintain the current over-regulated labour markets. I'm fairly certain that this was a case of Sarko seeing clearly that the CPE was doomed because Vile Pin made no attempt to sell it to the French and deciding that it was better to disassociate onseself from the mess rather than be potentially dragged down too. The fact that, as a result, he was also able to wreck Vile Pin's presidential aspirations clearly helped as well.
With Clearstream the question is whether Sarko wants to get Vile Pin or his boss l'Escroc. I suspect his target is the latter, both because he needs to ensure that l'Escroc is completely marginalized within the UMP and because he also needs to separate himself from l'Escroc in the public eye. By positioning himself as both victim of Chirac's intrigues and investigator of them he is able to tell the electorate that he is the "new improved" UMP not the sleazy old one. This may also explain why the story has boiled up now (if you think this is all pure coincidence then I have a bridge to sell you); it will take a while to the point where l'Escroc can be forced to answer questions in public, let alone get any sort of impeachment proceedings going, and Sarko really needs that publicity about this time next year when the presidential election campaign is warming up.
There seems to be little let up in politicians kicking at l'Escroc and Vile Pin right now. If you look at the French yahoo news, you see politicians from every major party including the extremist Front National and the ruling UMP (the party of Sarko, l'Escroc & Vile Pin) piling on. This latter is not good (google translation), even though the UMP pol concerned is a Sarko ally:
PARIS (Reuters) - UMP deputy Dominique Paillé, close to Nicolas Sarkozy, invited Jacques Chirac "to take the things in hands" in the Clearstream business which, he believes, risks strengthening the extremes.
"This crisis (...) is negative for the institutions, for the parties of government, it is especially negative for the confidence which the French place in their leaders", he said on RTL.
Although one must question the motives behind this statement, since Paillé is a Sarko buddy, there is no doubt that he is speaking for a significant chunk of UMP members. L'Escroc has been remarkably absent from the public eye this year, seeming to avoid as much as possible any opportunity to show his authority. About the only thing he has done is protest that Frenchmen should speak French and make incredibly wussy statements supposedly in support of Vile Pin and the CPE. This threat of extremism is also a genuine worry. L'Escroc was only elected last time because the presidential run off was between him and Le Pen of the Front National and while Sarko is indeed doing his best to appeal to the less radical parts of the FN, with continual barrages on immigration and law enforcement (and since he is minister for the interior it is impossible for Vile Pin et al. to criticise him for making speeches in this area), if l'Escroc manages to really tarnish the entire UMP through his (in)actions the most likely beneficiary is going to be the far right. One question that I really don't want to find the answer to is whether France prefers Le Pen to a socialist, since if we get into that position then Sarko has lost and we'll see 5 years of chaos no matter which wins.
I doubt this intensitiy of attack can be maintained without some further dirt - but tomorrow might be a good day for the investigators to raid the Matignon (the PM's house)....
PS It occurs to me that some may be wondering if I am overdoing my support for Sarko. I'm not unaware of his failings but I really don't see any other politician who has the balls to make the reforms that France needs and has the ability to explain them so that most French will accept them. Certainly there are no other centre-right politicians who can communicate the way he can and there is no way on earth that Royal is going to do the right reforms because she is a socialist idiot (albeit slightly less idiotic than most of the rest). You might think of her as a female French Gerhard Schröder and hence, even if she wants to reform the French economy her own party will stop her. The FN are worse because they are fixated on immigration and assume that everything else will be fixed if they chuck out the immigrants.