How The French See DSK

Andrew Sullivan —  May 20 2011 @ 5:21pm

Jim Manzi, who is in Paris, finds that “the French and American public reactions to this event seem vastly more alike than different”:

[H]ow sex crimes are defined, and the severity of the punishment, is not identical between the two countries. However, this difference in attitudes toward sex, marriage and the workplace can easily be exaggerated. I don’t advise you to explain to your French spouse that you have commenced an affair with your co-worker because “il est normal.” You’re very likely to find yourself and your clothes on the sidewalk, while getting an impromptu lesson on the creative use of the French language delivered form a third-floor balcony.

And before people start building grand theories about what the sex lives of French politicians say about French society, they ought to figure out what the sex lives of Bill Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Newt Gingrich, John Edwards, Elliot Spitzer, the “hiking the Appalachian Trail” guy and so on (and on and on) say about American society in general. I suspect what they really say is that narcissistic personalities in any society are disproportionately drawn to, and enabled by, careers that provide fame and power.

A French poll, finding that “57% of the French public and 70% of French Socialists believe that Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) was the victim of a set-up,” contradicts some of Manzi’s points.