A few months ago Sarkozy gave one his great Presidential conferences, the Grenelle de l'environment. In it, he announced a long series of measures to save the environment and even stave off global warming. It was all quite left-wing.
One promise, one remembered by most, was a commitment to impose a moratorium on genetically engineered crops in France. (The topic is a bete-noir for the French, a dazzling intersection of environmentalism, pastoralism and good ol' anti-americanism!).
At the time, it all seemed so ambitious and grandiose, but should have been merely suspect. Sarko was introducing these decrees, promising tham as laws, but the French National Assembly had yet to have its say, the agricultural lobbies had not had their moment. It was disingenuous for anyone, especially we journalists, to begin even parsing the Sarko-show that evening, because like with all his Sarko-shows, real politics had yet to weigh in.
And yesterday, it did. Not surprisingly, Sarko's UMP is up-in-arms about the GMO moratorium and probably expected Sarkozy would find a quiet moment of his own to drown it in the Seine. He still hasn't. Last night, sensing a chance to embarrass the right with only a handful of UMP members present in the hemicycle, the opposition introduced and passed an unambiguous anti-GMO law. No small feat when the left faces an absolute majority.
Facing the bitter embarrassment of the right-wing parliamentarians, Sarkozy's latest favorite, junior environment minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, pointed at Jean-Francois Copé, nominal head of the parliamentary UMP, and Jean-Louis Borloo, her boss and number two of government. An army of cowards, she said, for delaying delivery of Sarko's Grenelle promises. Copé for one, was quick to lash back (and she's since apologized).
But the guilty one is Sarkozy obviously, and we journalists to a lesser degree. Do the simple arithmetic, and it's clear that the Grenelle de l'environment was all smoke (with a keynote speech by Al Gore as mirror!). Sarkozy and his coterie still thought themselves on the campaign trail, where promises are fulfilled in some abstract future. Last night, in the French National Assembly, the Left offered a rare wake-up call, showing the real chasm between many President Sarkozy announcements and the political reality he is stuck with.
This was all perfectly predictable all those months ago. Hope we remember it at the next Sarko-show.