Yesterday's quickie post on the French election noted President-elect Sarkozy's tendency to freeze or combat his critics in the press. I called it Nixonian, because it seemed a little pat to compare Sarkozy to GOP frontrunner Rudy Giuliani. "Please!" says Rudy court biographer Fred Siegel. "Compare away!"
The two men met in 2002, when Giuliani had been invited to France to provide advice on how to combat the rising crime rate and Sarkozy was serving as Interior minister. The Frenchman talked to the American about "broken windows" policing and New York's famed COMSTAT program, which provided a meaningful metric for policing. More recently, Sarkozy has been talking up New York-style welfare reform - requiring the able-bodied to take available jobs.
Just as Giuliani wanted to make New York, with its Francified bureaucracies, more like the rest of America, Sarkozy wants to make France more like the more market-oriented Anglo-American economies. Both are critics of multiculturalism - and neither accepts that crime or terrorism can be explained by social causes.
Each talks in a language foreign to the elites - emphazing personal responsibility and the importance of the work ethic. In his recent book, "Témoignage" ["Testimony"], Sarkozy takes aim at those on the French left who depict the rioting Muslim youth of the banlieues as victims of police brutality and French racism. In a riff that's nearly pure Giuliani, he points to the massive social spending in the banlieue - and notes that it seems to have sown far more resentment than good will. Rudy-like, he argues that the young rioters have to adjust to France - rather than the other way around.
We'll get a full 18 months of the Sarkozy presidency before our own election, eight of them before our primaries. That's plenty of time to see if Sarkozy can replicate Giuliani's approach and have any success in a country much more prone to organized violence and blow-ups than New York was in 1994. Take the last 24 hours. When Giuliani won, he shuttled over to Harlem to meet David Dinkins and give a unity press conference. When Sarkozy wins, cars and trash cans start spouting flames.
Tim Cavanaugh's review of Siegel's Rudy bio is here.