meteoric trajectory that has brought the director of the International Monetary
Fund down to the ranks of a common criminal has forcefully collided with the global
imagination. Who hasn't feared, deep down in one’s soul, the cruelty of a fate
that in 48 hours, destroys what it has taken a lifetime to build?"
That night, DSK's [Dominique
Strauss-Kahn] hands cuffed behind his back, in the glare of flash photography -
the scene irresistibly evoked that of Kennedy’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald,
flanked by two FBI agents shortly before his own assassination. The parallel is
obviously not a flattering one, but it reveals a lot about the downfall of one
of the planet's most powerful men. The meteoric trajectory that has brought the
director of the International Monetary Fund down to the ranks of a common
criminal has forcefully collided with the global imagination. Who hasn't
feared, deep down in one’s soul, the cruelty of a fate that in 48 hours, destroys
what it has taken a lifetime to build?
Since yesterday evening, the
man, who on Saturday morning was still the front-runner in the 2012
presidential election, has become like any other, at the mercy of
proceedings he can no longer control. Justice must punish and put right; that
is its raison d'etre.
But for anonymous defendants and VIPs alike, after a court appearance and
subsequent detention, there is no call for the added punishment of humiliation.
Yesterday, the spectacle broadcast across the world was both fascinating - almost
hypnotic - and deeply nauseating. There was
something both primal and sacrificial in the self-satisfied exhibition of a person
ravaged by his own history. And please don’t try explaining to us that the
demands of the law are hardly compatible with respect for defendants!
The saddest part is that at
first glance, the evidence against the French wonder of Washington seems
overwhelming. The denial of his friends - even if we can understand it - is something
of a shock. What good does it do to deny evidence by attempting to … dress up
the weaknesses of their champion in the diaphanous shawl of his “love of
women”? This is not, as one might say on Twitter, a “simple zipper story,” but
a crime that may also devastate the life of the abused woman.
Paris' small political-media world
might take a moment to examine its unfortunate tendency to minimize, or
tolerate, the boundary-pushing behavior (in terms of sex, money, or both) of
its elites. For years, politicians and many journalists have been well aware of
DSK’s “petty foibles.” The leaders of the Socialist Party, whatever they say, also
knew. But in the name of respect for privacy, these types of behavior were permitted
to continue, as if it they were so many venial sins.
Photos of handcuffed suspects are illegal in
press. But U.S. media gave the French little choice.
At the end of the day, the
risk of catastrophe was knowingly taken. That catastrophe has now fully destroyed
a contender for the presidency, who no one, it seems, had the courage to
protect from himself. It should come as no surprise if along with his astonishing fall, is smashed a little bit more of the country’s confidence in a political elite
that lags behind the people.
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