not saying that in the United States everyone is equal before the law. The 'do
you know who you're talking to' is a universal practice. But here, would an
accusation from a 32-year-old Guinean hotel maid and mother of two, against the
all-powerful chief of a large organization, be taken seriously?"
Dominique Strauss-Kahn looking tense at his bail hearing at New York State Supreme Court, May 19. After putting up $1 million in bail, a $5 million insurance policy promising that he wouldn't flee, and agreeing to video surviellance, electronic surviellance and an armed guard outside his door, he won release.
I suppose everyone knows who
the title of this "headline" is about. Obviously, it refers to the theIMF's Managing Director Dominique
Strauss-Khan, imprisoned in New York and accused of sexually assaulting a
housekeeper at the Sofitel Hotel in the center of
[Editor's Note: Dominique
Strauss-Kahn has resigned as executive director of the IMF to concentrate on
defending himself from the charges against him. After putting up $1
million in bail, a $5 million insurance policy promising that he wouldn't flee,
and agreeing to video surviellance, electronic surviellance and an armed guard
outside his door, he has won release].
Before you even ask me, I am answering:
no, I would not vote for such a person. Sexual abuse reveals a serious lack of
character, and from my point of view, someone with a character deficit that
doesn't deserve my vote, even if the person is absolutely brilliant at
But I have no right to let my
opinion overshadow the fact that sexual predators can be good at governing.
There are famous cases, those of presidents John Kennedy and Bill Clinton, both
in the United States. In France, there's the example of François
Mitterrand, who held power in the Élysée Palace
for 14 years, despite living a double love life, which was only revealed after his
OK, I accept that there are
important differences between consensual sex (cases Kennedy, Clinton and
Mitterrand) and forced (case Strauss-Kahn - if he's found guilty). But the fact
that the first three are all-powerful men, always led us to assume that their
partners gave in more due to their influence than to the men themselves.
Indeed, the case of
Strauss-Kahn would fall into this category. In 2008, he became involved with a
subordinate named Piroska
Nagy (like him, married). But an investigation found that he didn’t abuse
his position and that the affair was consensual.
He was even acquitted by his
wife, journalist Anne
Sinclair, who said at the time: "These things happen in the history of
Clinton, too, was acquitted
by his wife Hillary, probably based on the same argument.
Indeed, these things happen.
But couples whose professional careers depend on public voting face different
consequences. Hence the question about voting for a sexual predator:
Strauss-Kahn is (or was) the favorite to become the Socialist Party candidate
for president of France in next year’s election. Every newspaper I read
yesterday declared his candidacy dead - as well as his management of the IMF.
The New York Times, for example, wrote: "There is a general
recognition that whatever the outcome - unless the police made a terrible
mistake - the arrest of Strauss-Kahn has exploded the political hopes of Strauss-Kahn,
unsettled the French political scene and abruptly ended his career at the IMF,
which is in the midst of critical negotiations on loans given to struggling
nations of the European Union [translated quote]."
Some even hint that the likely
departure of the managing director will interfere with bailout plans for
Portugal, Greece etc. I don’t think so. Strauss-Khan, as any managing director,
doesn't own the IMF, whose policies are dictated by an executive board made up
of 24 members representing the countries that comprise the Fund. In practice,
until already approved reforms are implemented and emerging countries gain more
of a voice and a vote, the United States and major European countries determine
what the Fund can or cannot do.
And the episode brings to
mind another question: what if it happened here?
No, I'm not saying that in
the United States everyone is equal before the law. The “do you know who you're
talking to” is a universal practice. But here, would an accusation from a
32-year-old Guinean hotel maid and mother of two, against the all-powerful
chief of a large organization, be taken seriously?
Oh, before I forget, the
characteristics of the episode reminded me of a previous discussion that, to
simplify, revolves around the following question: can one be genuinely
socialist and yet live the life the rich? Strauss-Khan was seen last week
climbing into the Porsche of an aide. Then, staying in a $3,000 a day suite, he
was arrested in the first class cabin of an Air France aircraft.
I can't answer the question, and
in any case, it doesn’t even seem relevant. From my point of view, what's
relevant is the fact that the IMF gives its senior officials and some not so
senior unfair advantages (I bet both the hotel suite and the first class flight
were paid by the Fund). The bureaucracy of the IMF grants such benefits to its
officials while imposing harsh austerity on developing countries.
Put another way, the IMF
style rankles more than the style of Strauss-Kahn.
Clovis Rossi is a special correspondent and member of the Folha
editorial board, is a winner of the Maria Moors Cabot award (USA) and
is a member of the Foundation for a New Ibero-American Journalism. His column
appears on Thursdays and Sundays on page 2 and on Saturdays in the World
Notebook section. He is the author, among other works, of Special Envoy:
25 Years Around the World and What is Journalism?
Help Support Worldmeets.us
Worldmeets.us is a non-partisan, volunteer-based, not-for-profit organization that operates solely in the public interest. The opinions expressed in articles posted by Worldmeets.us are not necessarily those of Worldmeets.us, its sponsors or its volunteers.