Getting kicked out of the top job at the International Monetary Fund turned out to be a brilliant business move for Dominique Strauss–Kahn. He still has to face trial for allegedly sexually abusing a powerless chambermaid at the Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan. But not to worry, the International Monetary Fund is going to give him a $250,000 severance package.
I swear, you can’t make this kind of thing up.
And liberal pundits wonder why Tea Party activists are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.
All the usual “thoughtful” and “statesmanlike” sellers of snake oil will be strutting their stuff as usual on the Driveby Networks solemnly explaining why stopping that fat cat payout to Strauss-Kahn would be A Rush to Judgment, set A Bad Precedent, penalize a Great Public Servant, etc, etc. Round Up the Usual Clichés.
And if necessary Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama will roll out a couple of their usual mindless puppets to aver that There is Nothing We Can Do to prevent the payout, even though our own bankruptcy-threatened U.S. government has shelled out $64 billion on deposit to the IMF not to mention a $100 billion line of credit on top of that.
Strauss-Kahn’s moral and right course of action is obvious. Whether he is guilty or innocent of the charge he should Do the Right Thing (credit to Spike Lee where it’s due) and turn that $250,000 over right away to an appropriate charity. Given the nature of the allegations against him, creating a safe house and fund for women and girls forced into prostitution in Guinea, the country where his alleged victim came from, would be an appropriate start.
After all, Strauss-Kahn has been one of France’s most eminent leftist figures of compassion for the Poor and Downtrodden through his long-eminent life, and he had a lock on the presidential nomination of the Socialist Party next year.
It wouldn’t be unprecedented, at least in this country, for a once all-powerful figure to dedicate themselves to raising large sums of money for deserving causes. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton couldn’t have had more different political philosophies and policies. But they have worked highly effectively together on a host of good causes, most notably for the victims of the great Haiti earthquake a year ago.
European left wingers are fond of sneering at the supposedly crass and coarse lives and life styles of American leaders. Now Strauss-Kahn has a chance to measure up to them, or show them up, by refusing to accept that $250,000 and giving it to the poor and needy instead.
Somehow I doubt that he’ll take it.
F Scott Fitzgerald got it right again -- sort of: It isn’t the very rich who are different from you and me, as he famously told a somewhat skeptical Ernest Hemingway. As Hemingway sensibly replied, that’s just because the rich have more money.
But the very powerful are different from you and me -- because they have power – and they know how to use it. There are plenty of powerful people who carry their dignitas, as the Romans put it, well. There are plenty of others who do not. Even on the Left. (Shock! Horror! Outrage!)
I previously suggested in these columns that Strauss-Kahn may have deliberately set up the scandal himself just so that he could appeal to the Lunatic Left in next year’s French presidential election as a victim of that Evil American Fascist Genius Barack Obama and his Right Wing Conspiracy. In fact according to a recent CSA opinion poll 57 percent of the French public believe he was framed.
But I may have overestimated DSK’s intellect and ambition. Perhaps he plotted the whole thing just to get himself forced out of the IMF so that he could pocket the cool quarter of a million. After all, weak as the dollar is, the euro is looking a lot worse these days.
Let there be no mistake: If President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton wanted to, they could twist the knife on the IMF and stop Strauss-Kahn’s golden parachute dead in its tracks. The Letter of the Law – that escape route for lawyers and other swindlers since time immemorial -- is about as hollow as the Maginot Line in cases like this. What matters is moral outrage and the will to apply it.
Moral censure won’t be applied of course. It never is. And Strauss-Kahn could easily emerge from all of this as President of France or winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – after all, even Yasser Arafat and Al Gore got that one. How hard can it be?
Right now, Strauss-Kahn’s defenders are trying to dig up the dirt on the alleged victim -- a powerless, black, African, Muslim young lady who was widowed at 17 with a child to support. DSK’s gallant knights are already trying to claim that she masterminded the whole thing and was trying to blackmail him.
All one can say about this contemptible and pathetic “strategy” is that if the arrogant, supposedly “brilliant” head of the IMF and would-be President of France really was such an “innocent” dupe, then he was also such an idiot that he shouldn’t be allowed out in public without a diaper.
But for conservatives and skeptics of power in France as well as in America, this whole affair offers an invaluable education. After all, we continue to assume, against all the evidence to the contrary, that heads of the IMF are responsible adults who really know what they’re doing. But then, we also take it for granted that they don’t abuse innocent and powerless chambermaids and force them to perform oral sex on them, don’t we?
Martin Sieff is former Managing Editor, International Affairs of United Press International. He is the author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East.”