PARIS — Perhaps the most revealing moment on election night in France was when Nicolas Sarkozy spoke in his victory speech of the friendship binding France and the United States. The moment was not revealing on account of what Nicolas Sarkozy actually said, which — like his comments on Europe, incidentally — reflected a predictably studied balance between expressions of fidelity and criticism. This is what Nicolas Sarkozy said:
But what was revealing was the spontaneous applause and cheering that broke out among the crowd when he uttered the words “to say to them that they can count on our friendship”: “pour leur dire qu’ils peuvent compter sur notre amitié.” You can hear and see it here. The passage on Franco-American relations is just over half way through the tape and a cursor control at the bottom of the media player allows you to skip forward. Even supposing such a pledge of friendship to the United States might — with all the “appropriate” qualifications — be found, for instance, in a speech by Jacques Chirac, it would certainly not receive such an enthusiastic response from his partisans — to say nothing of the partisans of Mme. Royal. This already represents an important difference between the old regime and the incoming new one.