l'age de Sarkozy

The invaluable Ralph Peters gives us Sarkozy in his own words:

What’s striking about this victory is Sarkozy’s bluntness. Instead of mumbo jumbo about la gloire, he speaks frankly about the mess in which France finds itself. (In one of her countless miscalculations, Sarko’s opponent, Ségolène Royal, condemned his forthright manner – but the French were puking sick of empty rhetoric.)

So what can we expect in l’age de Sarkozy? His ability to change a bloated, bureaucratic state will depend largely upon the upcoming parliamentary elections, but, whatever the results, count on nasty rear-guard battles waged by France’s garlic-breathed Jimmy Hoffas and pampered university students (at a time when not one French university makes the world’s top 200 rankings).

And the more Sarkozy succeeds, the more he’ll be hated by the French establishment.

But what does this son of a Hungarian immigrant really believe after all the campaign rhetoric’s hosed away?

Handsomely translated by Philip H. Gordon, Sarkozy’s recent book, “Testimony,” is startling in its integrity. No U.S. politician could be elected on the national stage if he spoke to voters with such read-’em-the-riot-act honesty. Sarko doesn’t pander.

Consider just a few of his eat-your-vegetables messages:

* “The best social model is one that creates jobs for everyone, and this is obviously not ours since our unemployment level is twice as high as that of our main partners.”

* “I admire the social mobility of American society. You can start with nothing and become a spectacular success. You can fail and get a second chance. Merit is rewarded.”

* “France is no longer the country that comes up with new ideas.”

And Sarkozy offers some hard truths to those Americans who mindlessly praise the imaginary social justice and “better” quality of life in a France they know only from privileged vacations that tend to avoid the Muslim slums and collapsed industrial areas:

* “The French have never spoken so much about justice while allowing so much injustice to prevail . . . The reality of our system is that it protects those who have something, and it is very tough on those who don’t.”

* “France has been discouraging initiative and punishing success for the past 25 years. And the main consequence of preventing the most dynamic members of society from getting rich is to make everyone else poor.”

* “It is hard to exaggerate the damage done to France by the 35-hour workweek. How can anyone think that you’re going to create wealth and jobs by working less?”

* “Thirteen percent of retired women live below the poverty line, and a further 25 percent are barely above it . . . The unemployment rate for unskilled workers is 15 percent . . . It is 22 percent for those under 25 and nearly 40 percent for low-skilled youth who live in [immigrant ghettos].”

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