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Jacques in the Foreign Legion
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-03-13 10:15:52
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Will anybody remember the French president Jacques Chirac let's say…in twenty years? The question came to mind while reading about his decision not to seek a third term in office in April’s elections.

I have my doubts mainly because Chirac always was…second! I know that the man did everything in his power to be remembered from history but he had to deal with a giant for a long time and I mean Francois Mitterand, plus survive in the shadow of another man Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. A difficult task and both shadows made him look very small.

What would make you remember him was that he was the president that survived thanks to the fear of Le Pen coming or for the riots in Paris. Would you remember him for the conservative turn of the French political life or that he would never become president if the socialists hadn’t screwed up so badly for so long? In his televised farewell he said that “the moment has come for me to serve you in a different way.” It makes you wonder if he’s going to be a good writer since the most likely way to serve in the future is writing his memoirs, which will be very interesting memoirs especially for the students of Francois Mitterand’s life, since that will be the main character there.

Mr. Sarkozy said that he hoped to receive Mr. Chirac’s endorsement, probably meaning blessing, and hold the door so I can enter, but Mr. Chirac has often shown that he’s not very fond of the conservative politician and his often provocative and controversy reactions has led to disasters a few times.

In his speech Mr. Chirac continued, "In a different way, but with the same enthusiasm, and the same passion to work for you, I will continue to take part in our shared struggles - my life struggle - for justice, for progress, for peace, for the greatness of France," and the first thought that crossed my mind was, god the man is going to join the French Foreign Legion! History has always kept something dramatic for all the major French personas, especially when they end their political life. Something out of a film noir, but in Chirac’s case it looks like it is going to end like an Italian comedy with Le Pen playing the clown.

The president said he was "proud of the work which we have carried out together," citing, in particular, improvements for the elderly and the disabled, reforms of the pension system and reductions in crime and unemployment. And he called on France to defend its values. Again I have the sense that the man is going to join the Foreign Legion. The bare truth is that Jacques Chirac, except the often ‘misunderstandings’ with his ministers and some more ‘misunderstandings’ with his European partners, he didn’t do anything much to be remembered. Furthermore, regarding the elderly and the disabled he just made practice what the socialist had said but failed to do. Coming to crime and unemployment…well, there he's losing again, since Sarkozy nearly burned the whole Paris and the suburbs by working on the French president’s policy!

And he ended with "France is not a country like others. It has particular responsibilities, the legacy of its history and the universal values it helped create." Damn, now I’m sure the man is joining the Legion. According to the romantic myth of the last century the people who joined the Legion often had committed crimes and were trying to prove something to themselves and the world. And you never know, he might do something so in twenty years we might….remember him!

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