DOUGLAS E. SCHOEN: The Dominique Strauss-Kahn I Know

I know Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

I’ve attended conferences with him around the world, and we even once shared a changing room in a hotel at Davos two years ago.

I don’t mean any of this to suggest that we are close friends. We’re not.

But I know the man well.

I know the impact he has had in in promoting capitalism and democracy around the world , and I know the key role he has played in stabilizing the global economy amid the financial crisis as Director of the IMF.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is arguably one of the most important economic and political figures in the world, and had been expected to seek France’s Socialist Party nomination to challenge President Nicolas Sarkozy next year.

Indeed, until the alleged incident this weekend – "DSK" as he is so frequently called, was the frontrunner to become the next president of France.

Now all of that has changed – perhaps irrevocably.

In France, having an extra-marital affair is tolerated much more readily than it is in the United States.

The United States is known for having a much puritanical culture than Europe does, and Europeans typically look at us with a degree of skepticism and sometimes scorn about our social mores.

That being said, the alleged actions that Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been accused of this past weekend, goes well beyond an affair, and even beyond having a consensual, albeit inappropriate relationship, with a subordinate at the IMF – for which he was investigated in 2008.

There is some sense in France that this may be some sort of political setup or conspiracy, but this seems increasingly unlikely – given the facts as they have been alleged and in light of what has come out so far.

The real tragedy here – going beyond the specifics of the case – are what this means for world leadership and democratic values.

Whatever Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s private woes may be, he is somebody who recognizes that we live in an interdependent world and that democratic nations have an interest and responsibility to keep our economic system functioning – particularly in times of uncertainty.

The charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn will be resolved through the legal process of the United States.

And with Benjamin Brafman representing him, there is every reason to believe that Strauss-Kahn will get a strong defense.

But the real loser is the international economic system, which – if not permanently, at least temporarily – is losing the services of a great visionary, and the people of France who may very well have lost the service of their likely next president.

Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist and Fox News contributor. His most recent book is "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System" published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins.