The Man Who Wasn't There

REGIS DUVIGNAU / REUTERS

YESTERDAY'S MAN: During the riots Chirac, pictured at an Armistice Day ceremony in Paris, seemed out of touch

It now seems evident, if there was any doubt before, that the Chirac political era is coming to an end. The French public cannot have failed to realize it as they watched the President on television last week drawing lessons, finally, from the revolt in the banlieues. For more than two weeks, while cars and public buildings burned, while police and firemen were attacked, Chirac remained reticent. He looked startlingly out of touch with the chaos around him, and acted as if he was not on the front line, not the wielder of executive power, not the guarantor of the nation's...

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