Sunday, June 15, 2008

Man at the wheel

Like many of my fellow citizens [that's the first time since my naturalization I've ever used explicitly such a phrase], I watched with interest the lengthy TV evening devoted to the French prime minister François Fillon, born 54 years ago in the city that hosts the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race... which was just won, incidentally, an hour or so ago, for the 8th time, by Audi and the Danish driver Tom Kristensen. In fact, François Fillon himself knows how to handle the wheel of a Le Mans racing car. Apparently, he once took Nicolas Sarkozy for a lap or two on a circuit, and the French president was green when he got out of the automobile.

As easy as it is to be annoyed by Sarko, if not sickened in extreme cases, it's difficult not to admire his friend Fillon, who has a totally different personality and style to the president. He's quiet and unassuming, with no apparent wish to have stories and pictures of himself, his Welsh wife and their five children appearing in people magazines. He's not flashy ("bling bling") in a nouveau riche style, and he speaks calmly but firmly, without twitches or gesticulations.

Although we must assume that Nicolas Sarkozy and François Fillon share identical viewpoints, and are working together with the same political goals in mind, they come through as quite different individuals. And I'll let you guess which of the two I prefer.

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