From Davos: Sarkozy’s stirring address

There’s a lot of buzz about French President Sarkozy’s speech last night, more than Obama’s state of the union address. In part because we were sleeping, and in part because while Obama gives a better speech, Sarkozy is a more effective populist.  It’s no particular trick to go after the bankers; it’s almost sport this ...

By , the president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media.
PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images
PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images
PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images

There's a lot of buzz about French President Sarkozy's speech last night, more than Obama's state of the union address. In part because we were sleeping, and in part because while Obama gives a better speech, Sarkozy is a more effective populist. 

It's no particular trick to go after the bankers; it's almost sport this year, but folks don't really have their heart in it.

Not so the French president. He went after the bankers, the dollar, capitalism with righteous indignation. Obama goes through the motions, but he's still all about hope and the vision thing (after all, he may need to tack back in a few months). Sarkozy wants to channel all these angry people.

There’s a lot of buzz about French President Sarkozy’s speech last night, more than Obama’s state of the union address. In part because we were sleeping, and in part because while Obama gives a better speech, Sarkozy is a more effective populist. 

It’s no particular trick to go after the bankers; it’s almost sport this year, but folks don’t really have their heart in it.

Not so the French president. He went after the bankers, the dollar, capitalism with righteous indignation. Obama goes through the motions, but he’s still all about hope and the vision thing (after all, he may need to tack back in a few months). Sarkozy wants to channel all these angry people.

To be fair, Davos folks aren’t all that angry. Something like two people applauded when Sarkozy said the world had to put morality back into capitalism. There were all sorts of reasons for that (lack of) reaction — antipathy, profound skepticism, malaise, jetlag. But it wasn’t a message that was going to rile the Davos folks. Having said that, unless you’re Klaus Schwab (or, nowadays, Bill Clinton), most of these speeches are for the home team.

* * *

Just overhead the Davos quote of the hour. South African President Jacob Zuma: "We must respect the culture of others. Polygamy is my culture and i treat my wives completely equal." Call it a wives’ tale. Incidentally, there’s a very large South African delegation accompanying the South African president, but I’ve only seen men. 

Ian Bremmer will be blogging from Davos this week sending reports and commentary from inside the World Economic Forum. 

Ian Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. He is also the host of the television show GZERO World With Ian Bremmer. Twitter: @ianbremmer

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