The problem with the personality types that often make their way to the summit of power is that they are very often unfamiliar with the concept, let alone the dangers, of overplaying one’s hand. So Nicolas Sarkozy decides to throw a follow up summit conference on the financial crisis with British Prime Minister ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, to the great surprise of the assembled leaders at this past weekend’s summit in Washington, who had agreed to at least a working plan on how to follow up on regulating global financial markets, if nothing else.
The choice of British prime ministers is certain to go over well with Gordon Brown, who had reason to believe that at long last the job was finally his. And the choice of timing is certain to go over well with President-elect Obama, who had reason to believe that he might eventually get a say in some of these discussions. But perhaps oddest is that, by all accounts, there was actually a good deal of common ground on the French and U.S. positions coming out of the Washington summit.
The French are already trying to walk this one back, but when gaffes play to type, they have a way of sticking. In this case, it’s Sarkozy’s compulsive habit of hogging the spotlight and taking credit for every breakthrough achieved. You can almost hear Angela Merkel saying, I told you so.