Seeking solace in Sarko

With Bush’s approval rating at the lowest of any president since Jimmy Carter in 1979, Republican insiders are seeking solace in Nicolas Sarkozy’s win. After all, France’s new president was able to pull out a victory for the incumbent party despite Jacques Chirac, a similarly troubled and maligned leader. Here is Newt Gingrich summing it up on Face the Nation yesterday: Nicolas Sarkozy ...

602088_070507_republicans_05.jpg
602088_070507_republicans_05.jpg

With Bush's approval rating at the lowest of any president since Jimmy Carter in 1979, Republican insiders are seeking solace in Nicolas Sarkozy's win. After all, France's new president was able to pull out a victory for the incumbent party despite Jacques Chirac, a similarly troubled and maligned leader. Here is Newt Gingrich summing it up on Face the Nation yesterday:
Nicolas Sarkozy is in the Chirac government. Chirac is at the end of 10 years, two terms. People are totally fed up with him, they're very tired. And yet Sarkozy has managed to become the candidate of change while Segolene Royal, the socialist opposition, has become the candidate of status quo."

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

But who among the current Republican field can position himself as a Sarkozy? Toby Harnden, who writes for London's Telegraph, suspects that Sen. John McCain's campaign may be trying to mimic Sarkozy's playbook. I don't see him pulling it off. Where Sarkozy offered France radical solutions on the country's two most pressing issues—immigration and economic malaise—McCain has become the candidate of the status quo on the United States' most pressing problem, Iraq. Sarkozy is about to become France's first baby boom president. McCain, if elected, would become the United States' oldest commander in chief.

With Bush’s approval rating at the lowest of any president since Jimmy Carter in 1979, Republican insiders are seeking solace in Nicolas Sarkozy’s win. After all, France’s new president was able to pull out a victory for the incumbent party despite Jacques Chirac, a similarly troubled and maligned leader. Here is Newt Gingrich summing it up on Face the Nation yesterday:

Nicolas Sarkozy is in the Chirac government. Chirac is at the end of 10 years, two terms. People are totally fed up with him, they’re very tired. And yet Sarkozy has managed to become the candidate of change while Segolene Royal, the socialist opposition, has become the candidate of status quo.”

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

But who among the current Republican field can position himself as a Sarkozy? Toby Harnden, who writes for London’s Telegraph, suspects that Sen. John McCain’s campaign may be trying to mimic Sarkozy’s playbook. I don’t see him pulling it off. Where Sarkozy offered France radical solutions on the country’s two most pressing issues—immigration and economic malaise—McCain has become the candidate of the status quo on the United States’ most pressing problem, Iraq. Sarkozy is about to become France’s first baby boom president. McCain, if elected, would become the United States’ oldest commander in chief.

Rather than having a maverick of the Sarkozy type emerge from within the Republican field, I suspect we are instead more likely to see one splinter off from the party and go it alone. Two leading contenders for that role, Sen. Chuck Hagel and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, appear to at least be giving that option some consideration. They’d better hurry. Desperate to get behind any candidate who offers charisma and hope, many Republicans who might support a Hagel or Bloomberg are already defecting to Sen. Barack Obama’s camp. And that should tell us everything we need to know about the likelihood of a radical of the Sarkozy vein emerging from the Republican primary.

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