French Lessons

By:  Rachel Marsden

You know your country’s a mess when you have an election and don’t bother getting around to talking about gays and abortion.

Meet France. A country so highly taxed that all the rich people move away, leaving so much rioting “riff-raff” that one of the presidential candidates — frustrated conservative turned president-elect Nicolas Sarkozy — openly fantasizes about clearing it out with a “pressure hose.”

Exactly a year ago, I wrote in a column suggesting that rioting protestors could drive France further right. Thankfully, they were too busy trashing Paris to pay attention.

Sarkozy has already upset his country’s socialists when he took a three-day, post-victory vacation aboard a yacht, on his own dime.

As a political strategist, I am appalled that there isn’t a single photo of the trip showing Nicolas Sarkozy with his shirt off. It’s a lot more difficult to slap the “fascist” label on a guy when he’s shirtless and hot.

And why is he back in town, anyway? He should have been sipping umbrella drinks on that ship until the morning he has to punch in at the Elysee. Because that’s what people do when they work hard — they get to go on vacation and rub suntan lotion on their bods.

What better way to teach Paris’ socialists and immigrants about the benefits of capitalism and hard work? It’s not like Sarko hasn’t already tried. He campaigned on the idea of lifting the maximum 35-hour work week, and of having universities institute more vocational programs. The response? Protests and riots.

As interior minister, Sarkozy sought to decrease the country’s unemployment rate by encouraging selective immigration of skilled workers, rather than “those that nobody else in the world wants.” His immigration bill, approved last year, requires newcomers to learn French and assimilate into the culture.

Much debate ensued. And by debate, I mean protests ... and riots. Yawn. The man is trying to make you employable, you morons.

Don’t like the idea of berets, escargot, and having to learn what those funny things over French vowels are for? No problem — Sarko says feel free to go back to Algeria.

Sarko may be the first French president in recent history to understand that some Islamists can be a bit problematic. His suggestion of putting cameras in mosques is a notable departure from the weapons-for-oil deals made with Arab countries by his predecessors, Chirac and Mitterrand.

Sarko doesn’t seem too psyched about the European Union Constitution that France overwhelmingly rejected in a referendum a couple of years ago — mainly because the EU was seeking to include Turkey, which is largely Muslim and largely screwed up, even by French standards.

He said during the election campaign that he’d put together a mini-treaty and send it to a parliamentary vote. Whatever. I trust now that Sarkozy’s elected, he’ll find better things to do. Three Bible publishers in Turkey recently had their throats slit. Sounds to me like a good enough excuse to hold off.

Besides, he needs to put down the roll of red tape and step away. Hey Sarko, remember that Christmas present you wrapped when you were a kid that took someone 10 minutes to open? Well, that’s your country.

In his first post-election speech, Sarko said that that Kyoto and global warming are his top priorities. Hey, don’t you have some neighbourhoods to pressure wash? If not, go lie down on a yacht until the feeling passes. Preferably “sans chemise.”