This post is in partnership with Worldcrunch, a new global news site that translates stories of note in foreign languages into English. The article below was originally published in the weekly French newsmagazine Le Nouvel Observateur.
A couple of days ago, few Americans knew who Dominique Strauss-Kahn was, and those who knew that he was the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Chief had nothing but praise for him. On Sunday, DSK (as he's known in France) discovered a new face of America, a face which will have no compassion for an all-powerful man charged with sexual assault and attempted rape.
Worse even is that the Frenchie is suspected of trying to flee from American justice by hopping the first Air France flight out of the country. In the coming days, a flood of headlines and old clichés about French people being cowardly and depraved will probably come up.
If proven guilty, Strauss-Kahn will have difficulty remaining out of prison, and relentless media pressure in the US will certainly make sure that he gets a heavy sentence. At the very best, he will be called a "sex addict". That was what happened to the golfer Tiger Woods.
On the contrary, if Dominique Strauss-Kahn is the victim of a conspiracy, things will not be better. In the US, politicians can be tempted by extra-marital activities (affairs) only if they remain secret. Once their misdemeanors are revealed, they have no other option than to resign, to pronounce a statement of contrition or to deny the obvious. Bill Clinton chose the latter option, until an infamous semen stain forced him to confess that he did have sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.
Last year's countless scandals were at least quite effective. Moralistic, Puritan and homophobic politicians were caught in the act. In Washington, Bernard Debré used to describe Strauss Kahn as "a disreputable man" who "wallowed in sex", but now he seldom makes this kind of comments. People have to be very cautious about what they say.
The Monica Lewinsky Scandal left definite marks on people's minds, even on those who have no sympathy for these hypocrites. For many, the argument that "it is an act between consenting adults" disappeared to make room for unvoiced criticism against Bill Clinton: the former President of the United States is still being criticized for being selfish and irresponsible, and because he let his one indulgence ruin Al Gore's chances of being elected. And let's not forget the huge consequences it had on the fate of America, and the world.
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