France: Le Débat: Jeu, Set, Match Hollande
It is hard to really determine a winner in a presidential debate. Both candidates are usually well-prepared, having digested long lists of facts and numbers, and ready to rumble and get it over with. Even in the American tradition of 3 presidential debates, it is hard to clearly say that one candidate has clearly won, while the other has clearly lost. Well, this was not the case tonight. In tonight’s French presidential debate, there was a clear winner and there was a clear loser. Hollande won, and Sarkozy lost.
Hollande dominated the debate from the beginning till the end. For almost 3 hours, the challenger showed his keen mastery of every fact related to any topic debated. In one word, it was a rare display of superiority. Sarkozy looked lost, angry, belligerent, disrespectful, not in control of his own files and facts. Sarkozy was outclassed and out-punched. Briefly stated, Sarkozy was in over his head.
We have to remember, Sarkozy was the candidate who demanded to have 3 debates. He was the candidate who said that he was “going to explode [Hollande].” Of course, Sarkozy, the bomb-maker, got exploded tonight. It is useless to go over every minute of the 3 hour long debate, but there was a passage, just before the end, where Hollande literally put the cherry on top of the cake. It was the apotheosis of the debate, the climatic moment, a moment that would certainly enter the history of presidential debates. Talking about his vision of the presidency and what he will do differently, Hollande, in a very eloquent way–almost poetic–summed up all of Sarkozy’s failures and emphasized clearly and calmly what he would do differently. Watch, this was a beautiful moment.