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Relevance to other countries of U.S. politics knowledge?

- May 17, 2012

Reporting on the recent French election, Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker wrote:

[Former president Nicolas Sarkozy] quickly came to seem arrogant instead of energetic, and he never quite shook a reputation, earned in the first days of his Presidency, for flashiness and bling. Even his marriage to Carla Bruni, and the child they had together, left the French unmoved. People will forgive a short man with a beautiful wife if he seems sufficiently surprised; Sarkozy seemed merely showy, and his energy, over time, merely antic and self-pleasing.

If this were written about U.S. politics, I’d say it was just silly, there’s no evidence blah blah blah, and that Sarkozy was judged “merely antic” etc. as the result of a poorly-performing economy. A two percent swing in the vote and all of a sudden we’re talking about how French voters love the antic and self-pleasing etc etc. But . . . maybe French politics is different. Such is the challenge for the specialist such as myself; it’s hard for me to know what aspects of my political science knowledge will generalize to other countries.

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