The PJ Tatler

Strauss-Kahn: the news according to The New York Times

It’s almost always revealing to see how the NYT covers a story. A case in point is their quick analysis of the Strauss-Kahn scandal: I.M.F. Chief’s Arrest Throws French Politics Into Disarray. It begins:

PARIS — For months, France has been buzzing with speculation that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the popular chief of the International Monetary Fund, would quit his job in Washington to take on President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s presidential elections. But on Sunday, French politicians and media met news of his arrest in New York for alleged sexual aggression with stunned disbelief and expressions of national humiliation.

The incident threw Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s political party, the Socialists, into confusion and set the stage for a new political calculus that could allow the National Front, the far-right party led by its founder’s daughter, Marine Le Pen, to become a more dominant force during the election campaign.

Then, later:

In any event, Mr. Sarkozy may not benefit, political analysts say. Over 60 percent of French voters do not want the president to run again in next year’s race, recent polls show. Francois Hollande, a former chief of the Socialist party, has been steadily rising in opinion polls, in part because his down-to-earth image contrasts with the more flamboyant Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Strauss-Kahn, said Stéphàe Rozès, a public opinion expert and president of Cap, a consultancy.

If Mr. Strauss-Kahn is out of the picture, he said, Mr. Hollande has a chance of making it into a presidential run-off and face not Mr. Sarkozy but Ms. Le Pen, which he believes would be a ticket to the presidency. It would also confirm the steady rise in the popularity ratings of Ms. Le Pen 10 years after her father faced off with Jacques Chirac in the 2002 presidential election. And it could move the National Front from the margins of the political arena to its center at a time when far-right, anti-immigrant and anti-European parties are making gains across Europe.

In other words, to the NYT, the real tragedy in the Strauss-Kahn affair is the potential rise of the extreme right. As the French say, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. (Were they talking about Obama?)