The New York Times' Maureen Dowd (subs. req'd) got the pundit junket to cover the last stages of the French presidential election. Her previous expertise on the US candidate haircut beat apparently doesn't extend to covering the fabulous hair atop of the heads of many French politicians, but to delivering various stylistic digs at Ségolène Royal --
When Ségo lost her temper at Sarko during Wednesday’s debate, on the issue of disabled children’s going to regular schools, it was denounced as contrived and inaccurate. She wanted to seem assertive and goad her abrasive and volatile rival into boiling over. Instead, he pushed the gender card back, telling her to “calm down” and stereotyping Serene Ségo .
Well, we watched that portion of the debate and there didn't seem to be much contrived about her performance. Sarko had made a pretty weak point which he intended to be self-serving, and she busted him on it. The subtext here, lying not far below the words "too moody and changeable to run a country that likes big, powerful leaders" is Dowd's internalization of Republican campaign spin in which the tough Daddy candidate is always going to beat the flighty liberal, whether it's Al Gore worrying about Mother Earth or John Kerry looking too French.
So while Maureen lays out the template for her Hillary bashing 16 months from now, we'll lay out our prediction that Sarko will win today, not because he made Ségo seem too feminine for France, but because the substance of his policies is more in line with what France wanted. In some countries, elections actually are decided by such things!