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Monsieur Liarface Meets Madame Hotflash
I'm not normally a Peggy Noonan fan. For me, she typically goes over like a cup of yesterday's Ovaltine. But, I did like her perceptions about the Ségo/Sarko debate vis à vis the notion of men and women engaging in politcal debate, and how they should handle themselves. From the Wall Street Journal:

The debate wasn't guys in ties in a row, it was a man and a woman sitting face to face across a table. They were eyeball to eyeball, and you got to see who blinked. The moderators were modest, in the background, not the star. Even the two candidates were not the star. What they think and who they are was the star.

At one point, as they disagreed on the facts of the mainstreaming of exceptional children, Ms. Royal accused Mr. Sarkozy of "the height of political immorality" and of "lying." She said she was "scandalized" and "very angry." She meant to show her steel, puncture his imperturbability, and reveal his rumored dark temper. Look what happened:

Sarkozy: Calm yourself, Madame.

Royal: No, I will not calm down.

Sarkozy: You need to be calm to be president of the Republic. . . . I don't know why Mrs. Royal, who is normally so calm, has lost her cool.

Royal: I have not lost my cool! I am angry, sometimes it is right and healthy to be angry. The president of the Republic should be angry at injustice.

Sarkozy: You fly off the handle very easily . . .

It was a clever flipping of intent: He showed her temper. Watching it, you could imagine unseen subtitles. I did not call you a liar, Monsieur Liarface. I did not call you emotional, Madame Hotflash.

Ms. Royal's frustration, and the look she got when she realized she'd dug a hole, was as revealing as Mr. Sarkozy's enjoyment of the inflicting of pain; he seemed to show a mild version of that great old word of French derivation, sadism.

...What Mr. Sarkozy had going for him in the debate is that he was not afraid of Ms. Royal because she was a woman. He was not undone by her femininity. American candidates seem much more awkward in this area. When up against a strong woman, male candidates don't know what is appropriate and standard political aggression and what is ungentlemanly bullying.

Mr. Sarkozy was not afraid or tentative. He was poised. He seemed to think he was facing a formidable adversary, and it didn't matter whether it was a man or a woman, it mattered that she was a socialist and socialism isn't helpful. And so he approached her as a person who is wrong.

She was not afraid of the boy. He was not afraid of the girl. He granted her no particular mystique; she granted him no particular advantage. They were appropriate.


Posted by aalkon at May 14, 2007 1:00 PM

Comments

It feels good to have missed the debate... It's been fun to pretend that this sort of little-kid bickering was an American campaigning problem. This topic, mundane edjumication policies, sounds pretty dry.

So-- When she says "the mainstreaming of exceptional children," are those her words for this stuff or theirs? And does "exceptional" mean fast or slow?

It would be ironic if it was Peggy Freaking Noonan who made the French seem obsessed with political correctness. Assuming it wasn't, it's time to stop hounding Bush for the My Little Pony thang, OK?

Also, always remember than Noonan, like Paul Krugman, took a lot of money from Enron for doing nothing useful. And if memory serves she 'couldn't remember' within an order of magnitude how much money she got.

Posted by: Crid at May 14, 2007 2:48 AM

She typically speaks and writes as if she's a nurse at an insane asylum or a ward for "special" children -- and everyone reading her counts among the "special" or insane.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 14, 2007 6:51 AM

Noonan was pretty good in "What I Saw At the Revolution." Everything since has been a steep downhill.

Posted by: kishke at May 14, 2007 7:20 AM

Heh. I was at one site the other day where a French resident posted, regarding the election, something to the effect that she now understood what it was like to live in a country that elected Bush, because the French voters hadn't VOTED FOR THE SOCIALIST WOMAN, OH NOES.

Posted by: marion at May 14, 2007 8:20 AM

Some on Noonan's WSJ readership must have been shocked to find an entire column devoted to Europhilia - including, GASP!, Francophilia. Thankfully, she did remember to stick in the obligatory dig at Hillary, so they probably were OK by the end.

Noonan's school-marmishness is off-putting, as is the fact that she rarely makes insightful comments.

Posted by: justin case at May 14, 2007 8:59 AM

She's human valium, and not in the good way. I'm guessing, in her mind, the Hillary thing was the hook that made it Journal-worthy.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 14, 2007 9:21 AM

I've always viewed Noonan as a dipso of some kind. She is either a drunk, out of her mind or both. The public displays of anguish, the bed head hairstyle and the histrionics doesn't make you a deep thinker, but she can play one on TV.

I'd rather give myself a pre-frontal lobotomy than to read her column or the next date who recommends Obama's 'The Audacity of Hope' for future reading.

Posted by: Joe at May 14, 2007 9:52 AM

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