mercredi 5 novembre 2008

Délicieuse provocation

By Pistol Tanker Palin

"I think that Barack Obama does not belong to America only this morning, but to the whole world."
Rama Yade
French Secretary of state for Human Rights and Foreign Affairs

The election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States is already raising the pressure on the government here.

Tonight, France 2 evening news anchor David Pujadas interviewed France's only black member of the national government, the sublime and articulate Senegal-born Rama Yade, graduate of France's elite Sciences Po, protégée of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Secretary of state for Human Rights and Foreign Affairs under Bernard Kouchner. The 32-year-old Muslim Yade is married to Joseph Zimet, an adviser to Secretary of State Jean-Marie Bockel and son of the Yiddish singer Ben Zimet.

Pujdas asked Yade what Obama's election meant for France. With her smile, especially winning this evening, lit by her own satisfaction in the Obama election, Yade said, "C'est une délicieuse provocation," which in itself was a délicieuse provocation, containing as it did her meaning that it will now be incumbent on France and other Western democracies to make way for more black and minority representation in their governments.

Earlier today, in the AP piece in the online version of French newspaper le Nouvel Observateur, known fondly as "le Nouvel Obs", nouvelObs.com, Yade called the election of Barack Obama "the fall of the Berlin Wall times 10".

AP | 05.11.2008 | 10:15

Rama Yade a estimé mercredi que l'élection de Barack Obama à la présidence des Etats-Unis était "une chute du mur de Berlin fois dix".

"Ce qui s'est passé là, c'est une chute du mur de Berlin fois dix", a-t-elle déclaré sur France Info. Très émue, la secrétaire d'Etat aux Affaires étrangères et aux Droits de l'Homme a soufflé: "Je crois que ce matin, nous avons tous envie d'être Américains."

"J'ai le coeur, pardon, alourdi par l'émotion, une émotion qui me fait dire que si elle est comme ça la vie, elle vaut la peine d'être vécue", a-t-elle ajouté.

Rama Yade a estimé que cette élection était "un défi qui est lancé à une bonne partie du monde". "C'est à nous de relever le gant pour ne pas vieillir trop vite", a-t-elle ajouté.

"Je crois que Barack Obama n'appartient pas ce matin à l'Amérique seulement, mais à l'ensemble du monde", a conclu Mme Yade.

Imagine someone in our government calling anything a"délicieuse provocation". Ah, mon dieu, que j'aime la France!


Yade speaking on the mobilsation of the UMP
for the second round of the presidential election
in France in 2007, with Rachida Dati

Also interviewed was Michaëlle Jean, the Haitian-born Governeur générale du Canada since September 27, 2005. Jean's family left Haiti in 1968 when she was 11 to escape the political dictatorship of François Duvalier.

Pujadas had just left-off with New York Times editor-in-chief and author of Twice as Good: Condoleezza Rice and her Path to Power, Marcus Mabry, who said -- and I translate:

Obama won many whites, more than John Kerry, the last Democrat, won, so it is a success for everyone, but it's also a success for the whole world, not just our country, but for everyone around the world. We saw this with all of the very moving moments all over the world. We can even ask ourselves -- it is also a challenge for France and the other great democracies -- , when will there be the first black president in France?

Jean spoke of Obama's tremendous ability to unite Americans, to give to America the sense that it can dare to recreate its own image, from a country built upon slavery and then the segregation of the races, to a country where people of all races can join to work together, and then she seized on Pujadas' earlier question about hope, saying:

Oui, l'espoir est essentiel. L'espoir c'est un carburant. L'espoir se rapporte aussi la confiance, et ce que Barack Obama a fait durant toute cette campagne c'est de redonner confiance aux électeurs américains, dire à chaque citoyen et à chaque citoyenne, "Vous savez, chaque geste compte, chaque geste compte et votre geste peut faire toute la difference."

I leave you with the broadcast of tonight's evening news in France. I know most of you don't speak French, but you can follow the images, perhaps get the gist of what is being said, and how this election has touched this country, where 84% of the French people polled say that they are satisfied with the result of our election in the United States.

There is here, too, the feeling that the expectations are high for our new president, and there is an understanding that it will take time, that he has the right to a certain measure of disappointment and even failure while he and the world put the pieces together to build a new working relationship and approach to the common problems we face in the areas of foreign relations, the global ecomony and our nations' security.

One thing I will follow very closely is the reaction of President Sarkozy as President elect Obama announcs his transition team and administration and begins the work of transitioning from the Bush White House to the Obama White House. It is widely felt in France that Sarkozy fawned a grat deal too much, was quite a bit too receptive of President George W. Bush, far too eager to be a friend of this very unpopular American president in the world, who is viewed as having the worst foreign policy program for many decades, and all eyes are upon him to see how he handles this much more satisfying American president-elect.

Please always bear in mind that the French conservative UMP, the political party of Sarkozy, while conservative remains much closer to our moderate Republican, even slightly conservative Democratic party positioning, while the PS, or the Parti Socialiste is a good deal more progressive than the most progressive aspect of the Democratic Party. I intend to avoid all future references to "right" and "left" in an effort to build a political language better able to help us accomplish our political goals.

Read George Lakoff's The Political Mind to get an idea why.
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