Saturday, May 21, 2011

Of Birkin Bags and Horny Old Goats

"The Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair," writes a Beeb scribbler, "has brought back to mind that most hoary of cliches, that it is the British who have the sex scandals, while for the French the problem is money."

Well, maybe it's "hoary" across the pond. Since I'm not exactly familiar with it, it sounds more "whorey" than hoary to moi (as Dominique Strauss-Kahn, though not the NYC bed fluffer he allegedly set upon, would say).

Meanwhile, two Turtle Islanders, both non-lefties, see the DSK affaire somewhat differently. For George Jonas, it's about the rich, who are different, getting a rougher ride because they're rich:
Why the lynch mob, you ask? If the man is guilty, hang him, but why not give him a trial first? Why keep him locked up in Rikers Island’s infernal prison for five days before giving him bail? Why force him to run the gauntlet of paparazzi in handcuffs — the infamous “perp walk” — that serves no purpose but to pillory a person still presumed to be innocent? Have people no sense of fairness?
Yes, they do; it’s just that their fashion sense is stronger. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, unless he (or she) belongs to a group whose guilt it’s fashionable to assume. There are such groups in every period. In 17th-century Salem, it used to be parishioners accused of witchcraft; in the McCarthy-era, entertainers accused of communism. In our times, they include passengers suspected of trying to board aircrafts. Also, to DSK’s misfortune, males suspected of sexual misconduct, and the rich and famous suspected of just about anything. Perhaps it’s envy’s revenge on socialists who institutionalized it.
Perhaps. Then again, perhaps it's something else again--say the desire to show that someone doesn't get preferential treatment just because he's a champange Socialist with a shmancy job description. That's how Mark Steyn sees it, anyway. Steyn also espies another factor: the yawning chasm between the hoi polloi and today's version of the nobility:
The arrest of a mediocre international civil servant in the first-class cabin of his jet isn't just a sex story: It's a glimpse of the widening gulf between the government class and their subjects in a post-prosperity West. Neither Geithner nor Strauss-Kahn have ever created a dime of wealth in their lives. They have devoted their careers to "public service," and thus are in the happy position of rarely if ever having to write a personal check. At the Sofitel in New York, DSK was in a $3,000-per-night suite. Was the IMF picking up the tab? If so, you the plucky U.S. taxpayer paid around 550 bucks of that, whereas Strauss-Kahn's fellow Frenchmen put up less than $150. So if, as Le Nouvel Observateur suggests, France and America really do belong in entirely different civilizations, the French one ought to start looking for a new patron for the heroic DSK's lifestyle.
Gee, I guess it is about money, after all.

As for moi (there's that word again), DSK reminds me of "L'Oncle Edgar," the randy septuagenarian who has an affair with the young Californian narrator of Diane Johnson's witty fish-out-of-water/fish-learns-to-swim-in-new-waters novel Le Divorce. Sure, Edgar, who regularly appears as a pundit on French TV (part of his appeal for the protagonist), is on and of the political right, not the left, and his relationship with the decades-younger woman is entirely consensual (he woos her with expensive meals and an Herm├Ęs Birkin bag), but both DSK and Edgar are powerful, aging Frenchmen who, as we non-transnational plebes are wont to say, cannot keep it zipped.

It also occurs to me that if Canucki Socialist politico Jack Layton can, you know, pay for it, why the heck couldn't DSK? Had Frenchy simply ordered up "room service" instead of (allegedly) trying to score a freebie, he could have been spared the ignominy of the perp walk. That's what comes, I suppose, of becoming accustomed to getting stuff "comped".

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