I think its worth a separate post rather than updating the previous one, but there is a lot more comment on the Clearstream affair that I think warrants attention.
Firstly I'm sure that this is merely a case of great minds thinking alike but the FT article linked to by Fausta makes some very similar points to some of my earlierposts regarding Sarko and the Clearstream affair in its discussion of his recent speech (which was damn good and really resonated):
He launched a scathing attack on political leaders over the last three decades, blaming their aversion to reform for fuelling "this France of the 'No'".
He said last month's street protests against a contentious youth labour law reflected the same "anxiety and lost hope" as the No vote in last year's referendum on Europe's constitutional treaty and the shock second-place finish by extreme right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen in the 2002 election.
Much of his speech stressed the need to rebuild French pride and reach out to voters of the anti-immigration National Front. "It is staggering to see how politically correct thinking has let the extreme right get a monopoly on using the word homeland," he said.
He also took a swipe at France's first ever slavery day, launched by Mr Chirac yesterday. "France has caused suffering, but she never gave birth to Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot," he said. "Making slavery the only face of France is to tar with the same brush all who did not practise it or stood up against it."
Mr Sarkozy's ability to pillory the political elite and its lack of vision, in spite of being one of its members for years, is a delicate balancing act that has become a central theme of his presidential campaign.
What the FT does not mention is that Sarko is indeed an outsider to the French elites in many ways. He is not an énarque, unlike just about every other major political figure in France, his father immigrated from Hungary - and you can tell; the joking definition "A Hungarian is a man who can enter a revolving door after you, but emerge before you" absolutely applies to Nick the Gnome - and he lacks the sort of mutual back-scratching ties to journalists that other politicians have - witness the media firestorm about his "scum" comment. That isn't to say he hasn't had some helping hands on his way up the greasy pole - as this 2004 Economist article points out Sarko was once a protégé of l'Escroc himself - but he has done a lot of the hard work by himself.
This, as I wrote before, I think is the key to Sarko's interest in the Clearstream affair. By presenting himself as the victim of a conspiracy by L'Escroc and Vile Pin he is able to make clear that he is an outsider. This means that the Wapping Liar's "Circular fireing squad" metaphor doesn't quite apply and hence I disagree with their conclusion that the scandal stands to benefit the left or the extreme right. In fact, although I have no evidence, I would not be surprised to learn that Sarko is orchestrating the entire scandal and that he has further bombshells to drop when he feels the time is right.
The Wapping Liar also borrows from me - I compared Clearstream with the various ZANU Labour party scandals recently too - but I think the best compare and contrast comes from a blog I have just added to my blogroll - Paris link - where they riff off Vile Pin's London trip. Indeed the comparison between Gordon Brown and Sarko as jealous juniors seeking to replace their PMs stands up to considerable scrutiny. In both cases they seem to be a more credible opposition than the offical one - being the Cameroons in Britain or the Socialsts in France, neither of whom seem able to put together a policy platform more coherent than "we aren't the government". There are two differences though, one is that Sarko seems more interested (sensible chap) in replacing L'Escroc than Vile Pin and the other is that Sarko seems to have slightly saner policies and to not believe that all your money is best spent by the government. Oh and he's not a dour scitch git either which is an added bonus.
To go back to Clearstream. It seems the longer I stay writing posts the more interesting news shows up.
French yahoo news has an article (translation) about the possible rise of the right wing FN (Front National) on the back of public unhappiness with the mainstream parties because of Clearstream. The article draws a parallel with the Italian "Mani Pulite" (Clean Hands) judicial probes which smacked both left-wing and right-wing parties. It would surprise me in the least if Clearstream were not to either involve some socialists or for someone (i.e. Nick the gnome) to find a new scandal involving them. After all the socialists had all sorts of odd funding scandals in the 1990s and I don't think magistrates ever got everyone involved. It would not surprise me in the least if some socialist old timers like Francois Hollande (i.e. Ségolène's hubby) had hidden accounts similar to the Japanese one that l'Escroc is supposed to have had, nor that they might actually have received bribes in precisely the way that Sarko was accused of - Christine Deviers-Joncour, the "Whore of the Republic", and the Elf scandal was after all very much a Mitterand era scandal.
A second article makes the unsurprising but somewhat contradictory point that the Socialists are in no hurry to throw l'Escroc out before the scheduled election in 2007. It seems that they feel that the longer they wait the more damage to the UMP will occur. This is, I think, a rather dangerous strategy since as I noted above, it is highly unlikely that the socialists are any less free of potential corruption scandals.
A third article (translation) though is rather more interesting: the agent who allegedly investigated l'Escroc's possible Japanese connection is denying any such thing. I'm not 100% sure this lets l'Escroc off the hook though, this may be more of a legalistic denial than a full exoneration, although it sounds pretty solid. In other words the fact that the former agent, Mr Flam, says "I did not investigate this in 2002" does not mean that either he did not investigate it in (say) 2001 or that someone else may not have investigated it. Moreover the agent is in fact one of the people who appears on the fake Clearstream list so there is considerable additional complication to this thread of the story.