After several months of competition with his rival across the English Channel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, as reported by the White House today, Sunday September 23, has finally bested new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to achieve the most coveted title a foreign head of state can attain from the White House, the glamorous position of International Presidential Poodle, which carries with it immense prestige within Washington power circles, as well as significant perks upon retirement from public life. The French President will be assuming the position vacated by former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair, who was forced to resign automatically upon his replacement as Prime Minister by Gordon Brown, who quickly became Sarkozy's chief rival as the contest developed.
Sarkozy had to outscore Prime Minister Brown in several categories, including "Summer Vacationing with American Plutocrats", which he won handily by staying at the New Hampshire estate of former Microsoft executive Michael Appe. Sarkozy very aptly complimented this by accepting a traditional red, white and blue picnic with President Bush at the Bush family retreat at Walker's Point in Kennebunkport, Maine. Bush offered Sarkozy a "meal of red meat in a bun, a global icon to many of American cultural imperialism" to quote an article by Frank Fuhrig on August 12 entitled "Bush offers Sarkozy taste of America " (Reference: click here).
President Sarkozy, despite France's great pride in its own preeminent cuisine, gobbled down this symbolic offering with generous humility.
Prime Minister Brown's own summer trip was tame by comparison, Brown merely meeting with Bush at Camp David, which did not display much originality and was barely within the guidelines of the competition, since his two day trip could only be categorized as a working vacation. Furthermore, ground was lost to President Sarkozy because, although President Bush himself is a Plutocrat, Brown was also expected to wine and dine with corporate tycoons.for two days of meetings. (photo source) One might discern by the look on Brown's face that his heart is not really into the competition with Sarkozy.
But where Sarkozy really shined was in the "Bait Iran" category, which is a category where one is expected to show one's hostility and belligerence to Iran as a head of state, as well as displaying a willingness to support any and all attacks on the Evil Persians. Brown's efforts have been, at best, tepid, complicated by his permitting the withdrawal of British forces from Basra in southern Iraq, which showed less than full enthusiasm for the War on Terror to the judges. Brown's statement of July 23 did not really impress them either, as we can note with this excerpt from a Reuters news article:"I firmly believe that the sanctions policy that we are pursuing will work, but I'm not one who's going forward to say that we rule out any particular form of action," Brown told a news conference, when asked if he would rule out a military strike against Iran. (Reference: click here)
Rhetorically, this was lacking in both flamboyance and excess, two of the judged criteria.
Sarkozy, not one to be outdone, pounced upon the occasion with such flourishes as: "(This two-pronged approach) is the only one that can enable us to avoid being faced with an alternative that I call catastrophic: an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran." (Reference: click here)This won immediate applause in Washington, both for its polarized simplicity and clever and catchy phrasing. The French President followed up on September 20 by declaring that he would lobby for tougher sanctions on Iran while he attends the pending U.N. General Assembly session commencing the week of September 24th. But the pièce de résistance was when his foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, stated "that European nations 'must prepare ourselves for the worst' if sanctions fail to stop Iran's nuclear development. Asked what that meant, Kouchner .... replied, 'That is war, sir.' " (Reference: click here)
Because subordinates' public statements are accepted as surrogate statements by a head of state during the contest, this dash of panache could immediately be assigned to Sarkozy.
An anonymous White House official confided that President Bush could not begin to contain his excitement when he saw the Kouchner news clip, reportedly strutting about the White House shouting, "We got a winner! We got our poodle! A real French poodle! Hot damned doggie! Get me some French Fries, Condi."
Relieved to finally have a winner, President Bush personally congratulated President Sarkozy by phone last Friday, thanking him for already moving American foreign policy goals along significantly, and inviting him to the White House this weekend for the official award ceremony and ribbon decoration before he attends the United Nations General Assembly this coming week. The short, relatively private ceremony was held this Sunday afternoon, as shown in the lead photograph, inside the White House, accompanied by champagne and French pastry. When it was time to actually tie red, white and blue ribbons about Sarkozy's person, the media was asked to leave, President Bush confiding, laughingly, that "this is a bit too embarrassing to have you guys witness, so cut poor Niki some slack here. It's kind of like a fraternity initiation, you know."
While leaving the room, several correspondents reported hearing President Sarkozy shouting, above uproarious laughter, "Mon Dieu! Not there!"