But Jane is too clever to avoid being reality-based and thus gets in numerous digs on the dysfunctionality of France, which even the New Yorker can hardly overlook:
France is in trouble. Everyone agrees on that. There is so much contempt for the country’s old political class that the three main candidates, for all their differences, speak to the same malaise......And they are all, in their own way, running on promises to fix the system in place before it crashes. Their most obvious challenge is economic. The country has stalled. Its growth is minimal. Its protectionist policies are disastrously out of touch with the global reality, let alone with the realities of the European Union, which it helped to found and enlarge (and then to undermine, in 2005, when it voted against an E.U. constitution). Its business, beyond the realm of luxury labels and designer clothes that the rich will always pay for, is not competitive. Its fear of the market is endemic, although, to be fair, that fear involves a reluctance to import the kind of social attrition it sees in America now. Attrition, of course, takes many forms, and the French form can be just as punishing: an unemployment rate of more than eight per cent, and as much as forty per cent in the big housing projects and immigrant neighborhoods where most of the country’s five or six million Muslims, the majority of them second- and third-generation French citizens, live.
My theory is that only the Renseignements Generaux really have a good fix on the number, which in Lyon in the seventies was 500,000 just for that prefecture.
Surprisingly, Kramer appears in the article to damn Segolene Royal with faint praise [Kramer describes how Royal refused an interview and this may be a bit of the Pelosi/Harman dynamic in play]. Le Pen is not even set up as a straw man to be knocked down. He simply is ignored, a symptom of leftist dysfunction The New Yorker shares with France. But Kramer is strangely very positive in her tone and language concerning Centrist Bayrou, who she says:
...thinks that the country has been lost in a fantastical dream of French power and French status and would feel much better about itself, and possibly even feel more “French,” if it started looking for a reasonable path to prosperity instead.
Bayrou has a plan to assemble a grand rassemblement of Left and Right in a broad coalition, but in his heart appear, Kramer hints, that everything in France is too politically brokered and subject to cabals by unelected elites to achieve a French New Deal. Kramer then says that Bayrou is not capable of doing any real reform. In a throw-away line, she says:
Sarkozy has been the only candidate willing to admit that the country will have to accept layoffs in the private sector, and reduce a massive public sector that eats up nearly forty-five per cent of the national budget.
And gets to her partly-hidden agenda, which is that Sarkozy may be the only way out of the impasse dead-end that France appears to be stuck in.
Will it be "Waiting for Godot" or "Huit Clos?"[No Exit]
If Godot ever arrives, he may look like Sarkozy.