”Flux de bouche” we say in dutchified French, whereas the French say “flux de paroles”, ‘flood of words’ in English. For all those who are following the French TV news (‘Le Journal de France 2 sur TV5’ here in the Netherlands) that is what is awaiting us with the new Parti Socialiste Prime Minster (PS/PM), Jean-Marc Ayrault, who was interviewed yesterday first time by anchor man ‘le toupet’ (our tv-divan pet name for David Pujadas, because of his well groomed hair that seems not to be all his). Ayrault certainly creates a ZAPMOMENT with his autonomous avalanche of memorised catch words making one forget what again was the question posed by the interviewer… It will be a verb soon ‘ayrauliser’ and – by mere chance – it is meaningful as the surname ‘ayrault’ is an older French spelling of ‘herault’ or ‘herald’ in English. Indeed ‘a herald’ does not answer questions, a herald proclaims!
As is often the case with a new dignitary the ‘homophone’, or ‘homonym’, or transliterated versions of his name into other languages, do produce some embarrassment, in this case in Arabic speaking countries, where his name is conceived as the name for the male sex organ (like the name of late Dutch Prime Minister Kok, is perceived as ‘cock’ in English).
Ayrault on his first introductory interview on France 2 news did not get any embarrassing questions – though – from ‘le toupet’, like one about his local ‘favoritisme’ scandal during his office as a mayor of the town of Nantes, triggered by a municipal contract for a news and publicity service without a public tender. This was fifteen years ago, and it did produce a six-month suspended prison sentence and a fine for Ayrault in 1997. Ayrault did not appeal against this ruling at that time.
As François Hollande did announce during his campaign that his new government would consist of impeccable persons only, tens of thousands professional and self-proclaimed defamers where sitting behind their computers and waiting for the moment the first nomination would appear from the confines of the new master in the Élysée, to cut & paste it into their favourite internet search engine. One of the first to post their resulted defamation was the fifth column of Sarkozy with their Facebook page “Non au PS” (has just 8.753 likes). Their home banner reads: “NON AU SOCIALISTES; NON AUX COMMUNISTES; NON AUX MODEMS, NON AU VERTS; NON A HOLLANDE ET LA GAUCHE” (‘MODEM” is ‘Mouvement Démocrat of François Bayrou; “Verts” is Green Party; “GAUCHE” is left). It is claimed that the post below did get the eager inquiry machine rolling, though the exposed disgraceful event must have been public knowledge anyhow.
In times we are progressively losing our ability to remember, because of electronic memory devices that have taken over that function, the instant recall of cases from the past by our ubiquitous digital machines, does pose a problem. The ‘waning of time’ ceases to exist. Forgetfulness which is a social device leading to leniency and clemency , forming the basis of human cohabitation, is made impossible. A “minor affair” from the past is easily turned into a ‘major’ one in the present.
We need to come to terms with this new social phenomenon. I would say that a conviction in the past of someone running for public office, is not necessary a negative thing. A convicted person, who has done his or her term, or who has been given a provisional sentence, can not be excluded from participating into politics or government all his or her life. Also, such a person may have gained – because of a punishing sentence – a better insight in the realities of life, in some cases even better than all those impeccable careerist bureaucrats. The fact that the past of Ayrault could be checked so easily renders his case ‘transparent’, though some sources (Le Monde 15/6/1996; a pay archive link) suggest that the legal construction of the publishing tender in Nantes, were “rather opaque.” The French web site “@rrets sur l’image” of May 11th 2012 has a detailed overview article on the case with this long title: “AYRAULT ET LA “BOULE PUANTE” : UNE AFFAIRE DE 1997 REFAIT SURFACE – Mais la presse n’a pas mis le nez dans ses archives pour en fournir les détails” (Ayrault and the stink bomb: an affair of 1997 surfaces again – But the press did not put its nose in its (own) archives to supply the details about it).
Scrutiny of acts and proclamations of the new Prime Minster is enhanced by all such bad publicity, which may hopefully help him sobering his ‘flux de paroles’.