Image by caribb via FlickrThe world economy is on the turn, and the French bit of it is riding high.
The proof? Unemployment figures, purchasing managers' returns, house prices?
No, nothing so boring.
Sarkozy, having bought a second hand aircraft for his official longhaul travel with the recession at its height, has just bought two brand new Dassault Falcons for short hops....fifty million euros apiece.
Further, he has named one of them 'Carla One' in honour of his wife - he'll probably use this one for nipping down to the Cote d'Azur to see how work on his mother in law's septic tank is progressing.
Sarkozy is currently being accused of having a Napoleon complex, which is a bit below the belt, given his short stature, and of regarding himself as more of a monarch than an elected president. The French should know....Napoleon started out as one of three consuls in the post Revolution Directory period, then became the first consul and then proclaimed himself Emperor. Napoleon I. His nephew started out as France's first President...in the Second Republic...and then turned himself into its' second Emperor as Napoleon III.
The first Napoleon was renowned for advancing the interests of his family. Sarkozy cannot reach the heights attained in that period, when Napoleon's brothers and sisters were installed on the thrones of Europe, but he is certainly advancing his family in domestic political circles - he needs to hire Neil Kinnock as an advisor on how to do this in the European Union - and is taking on a certain monarchical air, as witness his address to the National Assembly at Versailles.
The Kings of France would cow their parliaments by descending upon them in full state for what was called a 'lit de justice', that is, the King would be present in state, seated under a canopy and surrounded by the nobility and clergy. Enough to cow any assembly of the middle class...well, in France, anyway. The King would make the opening statement and would then hand over the rest of the business to his chancellor, but Sarkozy is made of sterner stuff. Having altered the constitution to allow him to address the National Assembly, and having advanced upon them between the ranks of the Republican Guard, he had no intention of handing over the stage to anyone. Certainly not to any member of what is laughingly known as his government, to whom his attitude reflects that reported of Mrs. Thatcher at dinner with the members of her cabinet. She had chosen her main course, and the waiter then prompted her...
'The vegetables, madam?'
'They can order for themselves.'
One would hesitate, if only for legal reasons, to suggest that there are similarities in the wives of the great men under discussion. Napoleon's wife, the Empress Josephine, had had a somewhat colourful reputation before her marriage, after all, but I suppose some link might be made with the plane Sarkozy has named after his wife, in that access to the future empress, like access to the future Carla One, was reserved for the wealthy and the privileged.
But does it have a bath?