In the last two evenings NBC evening news opened on the ex-IMF Chief Strauss-Kahn case. Of course, the stranger-than-fiction turn of event (- the lack of credibility of the alleged victim and DSK’s subsequent release from house arrest, even if the charges still stand as of now) was bombshell news in France on Friday . Experts say that there is now a great chance the case will collapse entirely.
In France this is not merely treated as criminal but also as political news. There have been speculations by some that DSK might be back in politics, and why not in the French presidential race, should he be acquitted. He was after all France’s most popular potential candidate for next year's presidency. Well, he may benefit from the sympathy over his ordeal but I find it hard to believe he could ever run as president of France.
- First, for practical reasons: the deadline for Socialists to declare their candidacy is July 13. (the Socialist Party will hold open primaries to choose its candidate for the first time in France history).
- Then and more importantly, because a collection of stories have surfaced out in the open: not only his womanizing or his libertine life but accusations of harassment, and even one alleged sexual assault. Even his friends admit that there is a dark side to his character (see this Le Monde article for instance), and this why the rape story was believable. He had sex with that woman, even though he knew this could be his downfall.
Finally, this case was an opportunity for all to see his wealth - not be the best promotion campaign when you represent the French socialist party.
This case has nonetheless been a great opportunity to engage discussions on gender relations in France, on the law and the presumption of innocence.
And it can also be an opportunity for a reflection on the role of the media and how they propagate clichés about other countries.
Here's a great example from political observer Arthur Goldhammer who explains on his blog from his own enlightening experience why the media can be pimps that turn their "guest experts" (in his case an academic) into prostitutes - a very appropriate, albeit scary metaphor in the context of the DSK sex scandal :