This time it's Sarkozy. The scoop-hungry weekly claims that the right-wing candidate was given a sweetheart deal when he bought an apartment in Neuilly, his political fiefdom, in 1997.
Add up all the freebies, and Sarkozy and wife were spared 300,000 euros, writes the weekly. And yes, the generous-hearted developer was a top-builder in Neuilly, with several contracts from the Sarko-run City Hall.
The last time real estate deals made it to the campaign, all the major candidates thrust their finances into the public record, except Sarko, who reneged on certain details last minute; blood in the water as far as the Canard Enchaine is concerned.
But right wing voters fear-not, the paper promises a detailed expose on the finances of Segolene Royal and companion Francois Hollande next week (who own a country home in Mougins, one of the most exclusive towns on planet Earth).
On his brand new blog, Franz-Olivier Giesbert, the ever-present editor of Le Point, asks the crucial question about centrist presidential nominee, Francois Bayrou:
How will he govern?
Because listening to Bayrou, it'a all bread and roses until you get to that question. He dodges it, answers with a question.... Just like Sarko and Sego, really.
But it's the key question. What exactly IS Francois Bayrou? And a pretty healthy portion of those who make up his poll numbers, will eventually want to know the answer to that question. They're not Le Pen voters. There in this to win, as Hillary Clinton would say.
And there in this because they're allergic to either Sego or Sarko (or both). If he even begins to hint that he'll betray his supporters to join
Sarkozy either one of them, as he may be forced to do, the Bayrou bubble will be over, if it isn't over before.
According to reports, the elephants coming back into the fold over at the Socialist Party was in part a clear signal to Bayrou that as embarrassed as they are by their inability to stop Segolene, the old-timers won't become Bayrou supporters so easily.
To all Socialists (as for all Sarkozystes), for now, Bayrou is nothing but trouble. Knives out.
To many members of the political class here, women in politics are only good if they're dressed in drag, a bit like Michelle Aliot Marie, with her Lawrence of Arabia pashminas and her martial demeanor.
But I have been convinced since the beginning of the great Segolene surge of 2006, that it was actually this very teacher image, and only this image, that would allow her to be president of France.
As Charles Bremner points out in his zesty remarks on the covering of this election, the Fifth Republic was custom-made for Charles de Gaulle, an aloof and imperial man, and every major aspirant to the throne has tailored themselves to fit that role ever since. (Sarkozy, with all his "change", and embracing of the entire French nation, is trying to duplicate this trajectory.)
Segolene is no de Gaulle and is smart enough to know that. So she's come up, consciously or not, with a far more feminine, but just as authoritative role: the school teacher. And I am convinced that if she keeps it up, and especially during the still extremely likely debates with Sarkozy in the not so distant future, she will be the most powerful woman in France since Catherine de Medici.
I have lived in France long enough to know all too well that the (not unsexy) school marm is as good as kryptonite here. France, that great country of the baccalaureate and intellectuals, is a classroom nation. (When the bad boyz torched their neighborhoods in 2005, they often torched their schools, too). If you can play the perfect teacher, you can more than likely become the perfect politician.
Jospin, the perennial prime minister, played this role for most of his career (and was best known as Minister of Education before he became PM.) But this super-teacher wasn't quite cool enough or sexy enough (or 21st century enough?) to become the top dog and his 2002 campaign ended in infamy.
But Segolene might be able to do the trick. And that is why her rallying of the "elephants" was so crucial. Sure they will continue sabotaging her with their uncontrollable blind quotes to a hungry press. But the point from last week that I think really lasts with the electorate (that isn't looking at the nitty gritty of the campaign like us crazies), is that the teacher finally blew her whistle and the kids (those elephants) came clamoring in.
The class, it seems, is now in session?
Peggy Noonan is a conservative columnist and excellent portraitist of power, even if you don't care for her politics. In an excellent column about the Hillary Clinton / Barak Obama dust-up, she wrote something that made me think about politics in France and the French people's supposed disinterset in character issues (which I think is untrue).
But Americans have always--always--looked at and judged the character and personality of their candidates for president. And they have been right to do so. It mattered that Lincoln was Honest Abe, Washington had no personal lust for power, that FDR was an optimist and a manipulator, that Adams was a man of rectitude and no small amount of stubbornness. These facts, these aspects of their nature, had policy implications and leadership implications. They couldn't be more pertinent. They still are.
She's describing why David Geffen's take-down of Hillary was definitely a negative for her, but to me, she also reminds you of why 12 years of Chirac leads France to the existential crisis it finds itself in. Had journalists in 1995 or 2002 divulged HALF of what they left in their notebooks, the French people would have had a far better idea of what to expect from him as a president, for better or worse.
The effects of the Alain Duhamel debacle are continuing to reverberate.
Ever since France's premiere political journalist was recused from commenting the election on RTL, the major radio station, all the news organizations have regrouped into irregular behavior.
They've turned to confessional (it's a Catholic country afterall!). Because even though Duhamel's suspension wasn't really about how reporters do their work, top writers at Le Monde, journalists at RTL, and editors at l'Express, have spontaneously begun to dissect their work days for all the world to read.
On this blog , RTL's Jean Michel Apathie describes what happened off the air this morning with Sarkozy. And finally, Renaud Revel of l'Express, (whose recent book on Claude Chirac -the daughter- dishes with gusto), blogs in sort of defense of Duhamel and other oldies.
It's becoming increasingly clear by the day that the election of 2007 is doing to French journalism what post-Iraq did in the US. It's not obvious where it will all land, but at the very least, something tells me we'll be seeing editorial email addresses even in Le Monde soon... Who would have ever imagined.
(And as a side note, a French journalism student, working on this blog tracking election coverage, told me that newspaper editors are especially excited to hear about "this online journalism thing" when talking to prospective hires.)
This is the big time folks.
At about 7pm Paris time, below was on Drudge Report, just below the headline.
France's Le Pen: 9/11 attacks 'an incident'...
In response to the frequent question if Americans are taking any interest in the French election, as long as Drudge keeps that on the page, they are.
And what else is on there?
France Invaded by Swarms of Giant Hornets - Global Warming Blamed
Now you know.
Link: DRUDGE REPORT 2007®.
Say what you will about Segolene, but, according to the radio station playing in the newspaper shop this morning, she scored about the same audience as Nicolas Sarkozy's performance on the same show two weeks ago (over six million viewers).
[UPDATE: Wow. She scored 8.9 million, against Sarko's 8 million. Twenty euros says there's a crisis meeting taking place at the UMP right this second.]
And that's news. A whole coterie of candidates (including Le Pen) scored only 6 million pairs of eyeballs last week. Interest is still very high for Segolene and you can be sure that Sarkozy is placing much more importance in those ratings results than in the polls.
In other TF1 news, news director Robert Namias went very public yesterday with a vow that the close friendship beween his boss, Martin Bouyges, and Nicolas Sarkozy has no bearing on the network's editorial line. Conincedentally (or not), Le Monde ran an article yesterday delineating Sarkozy's 25-year relationship with the media and more specifically, France's media barons.
Tha article begins with the line Sarko is known to open a press gaggle with:
"It's funny. I know all of your bosses."
The Bayrou bubble keeps expanding.
Now Le Monde reports that he'd beat each of the two front-runners, Sarko and Sego, if he reached the second round.
Fabulous. But just today Bayrou floated that he'd be open to naming someone like Dominique Strauss Kahn or the soft right Minister of Social Affairs, burly Borloo, as Prime Minister.
Up until that news, Bayrou had been free to represent the outsider, a softer Le Pen. But as Le Pen glibly put it in a recent interview, Bayrou "is part of the system".
It's going to be very interesting to see how Bayrou, a former Minister of Education for Chirac, tries to keep himself as an outsider for another 60-odd days, and floating Borloo and DSK definitely starts putting that status into jeopardy.
(And last week's Alain Duhamel quasi-endorsement definitely puts a cramp in his "outsider" narrative as well.)
According to the same pollsters who predict a Sarkozy (or, now, Bayrou) victory, no one should underestimate how angry and unstable the French electorate is. Segolene was the poll anointed gate crasher for all of 2006, and fizzled the day she was obliged, as the candidate, to represent a loathed establishment.
So Bayrou looks like he's the "not Le Pen" of the moment.
But will he be able to stay that way and succeed where Sego could not? Pas sur.
It's pretty ugly, but I certainly think French voters had a right to know at the very least that Chirac's daughter was suffering severely from mental illness during all these years. (Just like I think that they should have known Mitterand had a Mazarine.)