Friday, April 13, 2007

Maybe a whitewash for Chirac

Everybody in France is familiar with the time-honored satirical weekly named Le Canard enchaîné (the duck in chains)... including people who've never actually read it. Long ago, tabloid newspapers were referred to disparagingly as ducks because their content was likened to a quacking noise. [In English, too, fake doctors are called quacks, probably for the same reason.] The great statesman Georges Clemenceau [1841-1929] edited a newspaper called L'homme enchaîné (man in chains). When the Canard enchaîné was founded in 1915, its name was a humorous allusion to Clemenceau's newspaper. These days, in the title of the newspaper, the "ears" on either side of the name (which generally present a topical pun) feature ducks.

The Canard enchaîné has just thrown a spanner into the electoral works by suggesting that, "according to informed sources" (as the saying goes), the candidate Nicolas Sarkozy has promised Jacques Chirac that, after his re-entry into civilian life, the ex-president will not be pursued by the law for misdemeanors allegedly committed back in the days when he was the mayor of Paris. Naturally, both Chirac and Sarkozy immediately rejected this allegation, but there's a good chance that it's true, because claims made by the Canard enchaîné usually turn out to be based upon factual information. In any case, it's true that Chirac will have some serious explaining to do when the law starts to ask him questions. So, the idea that he might have bartered his support for Sarkozy, against a legal whitewash, is perfectly plausible. It's an interesting hypothesis. All we can do is to wait and see.

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