France: The Palace Provocateur

Nicolas Sarkozy's hard line against the rioters has earned him plenty of enemies--and may help make him France's next President

In a country where politicians generally prefer evasion to bluntness, Nicolas Sarkozy makes a point of being an anomaly. As mobs of disaffected youths rampaged through the streets across France again last week, the Interior Minister projected an air of tough-guy bravado, using ghetto epithets to condemn the rioters, daring them to take him on. When he appeared at a televised town-hall meeting, Sarkozy took umbrage at what he deemed the insolent tone of a teenager in a hooded sweatshirt and shaved head--"We are not in the street here," Sarkozy said--but refused to apologize for his own use of the derogatory...

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