Spectator contributor Joseph Harriss collects some of his best articles and columns in an enlightening new book on France.
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France’s cultural heritage, the pride of the nation, is also a bit of a sham. “The Frenchman’s idea of a pleasant evening watching television is either an American serial like Desperate Housewives or a western, preferably with John Wayne,” Harris says.
My own late brother-in-law, also a fan of the western, used to refer to our wives as the Soeurs Dalton (the Dalton sisters).
Yet this book is not depressing. Living in France, one finds humor in the day-to-day and nothing escapes Joe Harriss. The battle of the sexes — and sex itself — is unavoidable. Previous Presidents François Mitterrand and Nicolas Sarkozy had messy love lives and current President François Hollande is no neater. All come in for perceptive jibes and detailed accounts of their problems.
There is more. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Harriss notes, probably would be president today if he had not got caught with his pants down in New York, then Washington, then Lille. He is today a joke even to the French. Just last week DSK told a French news weekly that he considers himself innocent of all the sexual adventure charges against him. “Lust is no crime,” he said. I could imagine him in a curly wig, à la Voltaire, prancing around in the nude with Belgian hookers. By day, he was director of the very starchy International Monetary Fund. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
Harriss displays his reporter’s chops best in his longer investigative, analytical pieces on big subjects. This book includes two of his exceptionally solid exposes — one on the dim future of NATO, the other on UNESCO’s murky functioning. He is fearless in his criticism, as a good journalist must always be, and relished the opportunity in this book to reproduce the UNESCO response and his own response to the response.
I asked Joe in an email if he was running out of ideas. “I’ll surely hang it up one of these days, but, as Saint Augustine prayed about chastity, not yet, oh Lord.”
I, for one, hope he never hangs it up.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?