Many in France are embarrassed and ashamed at the arrest of IMF big shot Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a prominent French socialist seen as the most likely candidate to defeat center-right President Nicolas Sarkozy.
But what's got some French lefties really upset is that New York's police put the accused sex offender through a traditional "perp walk" - paraded before TV cameras in handcuffs just like, well, a common criminal suspect!
Eva Joly, leader of the French Green Party, called the perp walk a "violent image." And she had some harsh words for America's justice system -- complaining it "doesn't distinguish between the director of the I.M.F. and any other suspect."
In an amusing article about how the "perp walk" has shocked the French -- and particularly French lefties -- the New York Times noted that Joly is "a well-known French magistrate who once brought charges against Mr. Strauss-Kahn for corruption (of which he was later acquitted)." She's expected to run in next year's presidential election. Strauss-Kahn, 62, has been denied bail, having been deemed a flight risk. He is accused of attempted rape, a criminal sex act, and unlawful imprisonment -- all for his alleged sexual assault upon a 32-year-old chamber maid in his $3,000-a-night New York City hotel suite. His alleged victim is an immigrant from Africa who lives in the Bronx.
Meanwhile, other women are coming forward about nasty encounters with Strauss-Kahn, a communist-turned socialist who's known in France as the "great seducer" because of his reputation as an out-of-control womanizer. One French journalist complained of an encounter in which Strauss-Kahn, whom she was trying to interview, pawed at her like a "chimpanzee in heat."
France's right-wing politicians, meanwhile, are calling Strauss-Kahn a name that's perhaps worse than being called a sex offender: a "champagne socialist!" Among the incriminating evidence: A photo of Strauss-Kahn and his wife getting into a Porsche costing more than $100,000. The car didn't actually belong to Strauss-Kahn but to a friend. But no matter. The photo "sparked sneers on the Internet and from the Right," noted London's conservative newspaper, The Telegraph.
The paper added that "Brice Hortefeux, (France's) former interior minister and a close friend of President Nicolas Sarkozy, quipped that the Left had abandoned the symbols of the workers' struggle used when Socialist president, Francois Mitterrand, first took power.
"Back in 1981, it was the rose and the clenched fist. Today it's a Porsche at the wheel," Mr. Hortefeux said.
"The jibe was aimed at proving Mr. Strauss-Kahn is out of touch after four years with the IMF, and sought to stoke tensions within the French Left, where traditionalists already see Mr Strauss-Kahn, a former Socialist finance minister, as too Right-wing."
During the French Revolution, the guillotine was introduced as a form of punishment symbolizing the revolution's highest ideals: It treated rich and poor exactly alike -- giving them an equally quick and painless death. Obviously, France has come a long way since those lofty ideals. Disgust among some lefties over the "perp walk" -- and view that it should be reserved only for common criminal suspects -- is testimony to that.