Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Non. Oui. Peut-etre.

Big week of news. Unfortunately, big week of work for me, too. Lots to chew on.

First, 'Non.' I've slowly become a eurosceptic over the last five or so years, and apparently, so has the majority of the French population. Sunday's vote was not a rejection of Europe outright, but a combination of anti-immigrant sentiment and socialist nostalgia, with a good deal of dissatisfaction with the economy and with the smug and increasingly out-of-touch Chirac. The key was the economy, I think; since every Frenchman and their uncle read the constitution in the weeks leading up to the poll, they knew that the document was mostly symbolic, but still a symbol of the status quo. (This, of course, is the problem with referenda -- they end up being a vote on everything.) Despite all the promises of prosperity, the euro has been a disaster, with various eurozone economies in completely different gears. Italy's huge debt load has put it on the verge of pulling an Argentina-style default, while an investment bank memo floating around my office has the Germans considering leaving the euro altogether. I'm not cheering on Europe's economic demise, quite the opposite, but so much for the EU dominating the 21st century. If you've got euros, sell them. (Insert requisite 'this does not constitute a formal offer' disclaimer here.)
Also intriguing: with the virtual downfall of Chirac (a new verb has popped up around the pages of the press in the last few days: 'Chiracification'), most of the highest-profile opponents of the Iraq war have been emasculated, while the pro-war politicians are still standing. Germany's Schroeder has called early elections, and Paul Martin stood at the brink two weeks ago. Meanwhile, George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard are still around, and will be for the forseeable future. Of course I realize that the war was not the only factor at play here, but as time goes on, it's becoming clearer whose side history will be on.

Second, Deep Throat. Mark Felt? I had kind of hoped it would be Kissinger, or something. This has got to be a bit of a downer to Woodward, Bernstein and the boys, who must have been bursting to reveal Felt's identity, his obit already written and sitting in a WashPost desk somewhere. Then again, they may just be relieved. I had dinner a couple of years ago with the affable former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, the only other person who knew Deep Throat's identity (writing for the YDN has its privileges). No, he didn't tell me either, although he looked like he would have loved to spill the beans.


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