Hitchcock could not have done better (or am I thinking of Mel Brooks?).Last week, on November 9 to be exact, Europeans, amidst much hypocritical hoopla, celebrated the "fall" of the Berlin Wall, an event of great importance only to those who had been sequestered behind the wall, and those for whom Communism (and its current incarnation - anti-racism) represent a major nefarious and limiting force in the lives of men.One of the funniest stories to come out of France on this topic was Nicolas Sarkozy's pronouncement on Facebook that he too had been in Berlin on that day and had witnessed the fall. A useless lie, since the French media caught him immediately with egg on his face. Not that he cared. Not that he apologized for his error, or even claimed a slip in his memory.Here are a few excerpts from Alain Auffrey's blog published by the left-leaning Libération:The president tells us that on November 9, 1989, he was there. With a hammer in his hand and a photo to back him up. The man who was preparing to make history could not miss out on this historical moment. Super!The problem is that his story does not hold water:"On November 9, in the morning, we were listening with interest to the news from Berlin that seemed to announce a change in the divided German capital. We decided to leave Paris with Alain Juppé (then prime minister) to participate in the event that was taking shape."But on the morning of November 9, nobody in Paris - or even in Berlin - could have had an inkling that the wall was going to fall. West German radio and television did not begin to talk about "freedom of movement" until after 8:00 p.m. And it wasn't until after 11:00 p.m. that East Berliners, taking premature reports for definitive statements, began to gather in such large numbers at the border post of Bornhomer Strasse that the East German border guards had to finally lift the barriers. According to an eye-witness, the event never "took shape".To add insult to injury, Sarkozy added this completely imaginary scene:"When we arrived in West Berlin, we sped to the Brandenburg Gate where an enthusiastic crowd had already gathered on hearing that the wall would probably be opened."At no time did the announcement of a "probable opening" trigger any gathering of West Berliners. The crowd was on the East side. And many more were to the North, in the Prenzlauer Berg section. West Berliners only began attacking the wall the next day - November 10. They were joined by visitors from all over the world, including Nicolas Sarkozy and Alain Juppé.But if he wasn't in Berlin, where was our future president on that famous November 9? Maybe he was at Colombey-les-deux-églises, as he is every November 9, commemorating the death of General de Gaulle. Just a hypothesis.Readers of Libération offered many suggestions:- In truth, the Brandenburg Gate only opened much later. In December. I was there, unlike Nicolas...- No! On November 9, he was painting the Lascaux caves. Everybody knows that!- A good trick on the part of the Leader. Did he see the Ceausescu couple die? Was he in Moscow at the end of the USSR? Will he be in Cuba when Castro dies? The suspense is killing me.- My cousin from Frankfort was there, because his wife was on the other side. I confirm that nobody could have been on the site before midnight without the danger of being shot at by the border guards.A short while after Sarkozy announced that he had been in Berlin that day, Prime Minister François Fillon, in a loyal act of damage control, announced that he too had been in Berlin on November 9, and that he HAD SEEN SARKOZY there! His story too was ripped to shreds by the media. According to 20 Minutes:(..) On Monday night, around 9:30 p.m. Fillon published on Facebook, a photo (below) of himself, in a long tan coat, chipping away at the Berlin Wall with a hammer. The photo is not dated, but by all indications it comes from after November 10, 1989. It resembles in many ways the photo posted by the president: a photo taken at night in which we can see Nicolas Sarkozy also chipping away at the wall.In his caption, François Fillon affirms that he had been in Berlin since November 7, participating in a conference organized by the Free University of Berlin (...)François Fillon had already rushed to the aid of his boss on Monday afternoon, but a lot of good it did him. Claiming that he actually saw Nicolas Sarkozy on November 9, 1989 in Berlin, since he had been there himself since November 7, 1989, he was caught in his own trap. Evidence in the form of minutes from the meetings of the National Assembly shows that François Fillon could not have been in Berlin on November 7, 8, and 9 because he was in the National Assembly on November 8.While the actual dates are of little importance, and while the two men may be telling partial truths, what really matters is the way Sarkozy turns a minor faux-pas into a major one, opening himself to more ridicule. More importantly the way everyone rushes to get on a bandwagon, to be "part of history", even though their loyalties are ambivalent at best, even though they may have no knowledge or even interest in the history they claim to be a part of.Wherever these men were in 1989, we can say with no hesitation that in 2009 François Fillon found himself in Hanoi, on November 11 - 13. (A good way to recover from having to celebrate the destruction of a Communist symbol in Berlin. See my next post).)That the same François Fillon was sighted on November 17 at the annual convention of mayors of France held at the Porte Versailles, where he was abundantly booed by the mayors over fiscal reform issues. A video at Le Post attests to the volley of boos that greeted him.While the prime minister took it on the chin from the mayors, Nicolas Sarkozy was spending the day of November 17 in Saudi Arabia, on a 24-hour semi-private visit of friendship, thus, as the article from Le Post puts it, skillfully evading the mayors, with whom he will meet on Friday. So one can infer that rather than face the mayors, Sarko sent Fillon to receive the brunt of their anger. Presumably on Friday they will have cooled down (unless they decide to throw a pie in his face).This makes Sarkozy not only an inventor of tall tales, but a coward as well. If he cannot face his own mayors, how can anyone even begin to assume he could stand up to criminals and violent pressure groups?
Labels: François Fillon, Germany, History, President Sarkozy 2009, Sarkozy's Values, Vietnam