Strauss-Kahn: A teaching moment for the French? (UPDATED)
But moral disconnection seems to be at the root of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s behavior. A supposed leftist and one-time student communist, he lived the most extravagant personal lifestyle replete with three thousand dollar hotel suites, thirty-five thousand dollar suits (Strauss-Kahn is suing over this allegation by France Soir -- but what if they’re only twenty thousand?), unlimited first class seats on Air France, Porsches, etc.
Even in Hollywood such hypocrisy would be frowned upon (well, mostly), but the French seemed to like it, his poll numbers going up even as the accusations of “champagne socialism” from the Sarkozy camp increased. A 2008 admission of adultery with an underling at the IMF -- a young Hungarian economist -- was essentially ignored after DSK made a pro forma apology. The French evidently admired him as a “grand séducteur.”
Now, of course, with accusations of rape and what they call “fellation,” things are different. But how will French society at large process this? Will we still be naive Americans with our prudish ways?
After all, entitlement is one of the principle causes of adultery and few have behaved with a greater sense of misguided entitlement than DSK. In a new development, we find the not surprising news that other examples of sexual assault on the part of the Socialist Party leader are beginning to surface -- including one from another Socialist Party official who claims his daughter, a journalist, was traumatized by DSK in 2002. Expect more to come out of the woodwork.
The point, of course, is not that there is one sick man. There always is. But that there is a culture that enables him.
But enough of that. Let’s leave with the France we all love, the France that regrets nothing -- until it should.
UPDATE: The following questions were asked of the IMF Press Office by PJMedia Washington Bureau Chief Richard Pollock:
Q. Why was he in New York? What IMF business brought him to NY?
Q. What was the IMF business in Paris?
Q. What is the accepted per diem for IMF employees at Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s level? Do you have a limit on hotel rates?
Q. Did Mr. Strauss-Kahn book his New York hotel through IMF channels or the IMF office?
Q. Was it customary for Mr. Strauss-Kahn to book $3,000 per night rooms? If it exceeds the per diem limit was were the provisions for its payment? Did the IMF or Mr. Strauss-Kahn pay for the overage?
Q. Will you release records of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s travel, hotel and amenity charges over the past year in which the IMF covered his expense?
IMF staff have clear rules for where they may stay and how much they may pay on official travel, with an established system of preferred hotels and set rates, negotiated centrally. The Sofitel is not on the list of New York hotels, which are generally standard business hotels. At present, the maximum hotel rate in New York for staff on official business is $386 a night, including tax and service charges.
The Managing Director was staying in New York on private business. As such, he pays out of his own pocket for hotels. We understand that the reserved room rate was way below the amounts mentioned. I would refer you to the Managing Director’s private lawyer, Bill Taylor, 202 431 6373 for any more information.
IMF press office