The Wall Street Journal editorial page says its "cautiously optimistic," but it's giving Nicolas Sarkozy's domestic reform agenda speech high marks. Indeed, such rhetoric would have once been considered political suicide in France. From the WSJ:
The new President declared that France's generous welfare state is "unjust" and "financially untenable," "discourages work and job creation," and "fails to bring equal opportunity." The result: France's jobless rate is the euro zone's highest. The President wants "a new social contract founded on work, merit and equal opportunity." He promised to loosen restrictions on working hours and toughen up requirements for jobless benefits, to ease hiring and firing rules and reduce incentives to retire early.
Now for the skepticism:
One of the biggest threats to Mr. Sarkozy's revolution may yet be from Mr. Sarkozy himself. In his first four months in office, the President has revealed a populist streak. He browbeats the European Central Bank to lower interest rates and sticks his nose into big business. Such interventionism harks back to old-style French economic management and is out of tune with the approach outlined yesterday.
Mr. Sarkozy's long-awaited speech sets the stage for the most important political battle in his first term. Whatever the President does in the next five years, he can't claim to have succeeded unless France breaks out of its economic slumber. His equally ambitious foreign policy depends on it, too. The President's prescriptions for the ailing French welfare state are hard to argue with. Now if only Mr. Sarkozy will apply them.
Video of Sarkozy at the G8 summit, after, apparently, tossing back two dozen cans of Kronenbourg 1664.
Bonus video of Tony Blair congratulating Nicolas Sarkozy on his election victory in French, courtesy of Number 10's own YouTube channel.