Sarkozy Puts His Foot In His Mouth

April 18, 2009 at 9:27 pm | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment

Presidents pushing people around is old hat, of course. But Sarkozy’s criticisms of some of the most powerful leaders on earth is rare.

French daily Libération revealed that Sarkozy had delivered some astonishingly unflattering comments about several foreign officials — including American President Barack Obama. During a lunch with a group of French legislators Wednesday, Sarkozy reportedly described Obama as inexperienced, ill-prepared by advisers, and thus far “not always up to standard on decision-making and efficiency.” And those turned out to be relatively kind words. Sarkozy said German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been reluctantly forced by economic realities to copy his own policies for dealing with the recession.

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Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy

When international newspapers picked up the comments the Elysée went into spin mode, denying the most offensive quips, particularly those about Obama. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, said the French President, was simply “not very clever.” (Read why Jacques Chirac is more popular than Sarkozy.)

Doubly disgusted reports from abroad frequently contained condemnations similar to the Times of London’s description of Sarkozy as a “bitchy little princess”. Spain’s ABC said Sarkozy’s behavior confirmed frequent complaints in France that his “superiority complex has no limits.” By midday Friday, the global coverage of Libération’s report had come full circle, with French media like the daily Le Monde running stories about “The Arrogant Sarkozy Fingered By the International Press.”

Sarkozy had visibly swelled with pride beside Obama as he hosted the American to a rock star’s welcome to NATO’s 60th anniversary event. Now, his behind-closed-doors comments not only raise questions about Sarkozy’s understanding of international diplomacy but leave the French president looking like the lightweight leader he says he sees when he looks at his peers.

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