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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 2-Jul-2011
2-Jul-11 News -- France's politics in turmoil from collapse of Strauss-Kahn rape case

Web Log - July, 2011

2-Jul-11 News -- France's politics in turmoil from collapse of Strauss-Kahn rape case

The sad case of Susan Estrich

France's politics in turmoil from collapse of Strauss-Kahn rape case

Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) was released from jail on his own recognizance on Friday, after being jailed and confined for six weeks, thanks to sexual assault charges by a chambermaid. However, now the prosecutor, Cyrus Vance, is indicating that the accuser, a Guinean woman named Nafissatou Diallo, has lied repeatedly, and has even fabricated previous assault claims.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn and wife Anne Sinclair happy as they leave court on Friday (Le Monde)
Dominique Strauss-Kahn and wife Anne Sinclair happy as they leave court on Friday (Le Monde)

Until recently, Strauss-Kahn was worldwide head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the leading challenger to run against Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's presidential election in France. The sexual assault allegations, which now appear to be have been fabricated, have cost him his job and probably his political career as well.

Nafissatou Diallo
Nafissatou Diallo

The case is reminiscent of the "Duke Lacrosse rape case." In 2006, a black woman claimed that several members of the Duke College lacrosse team had raped her. District attorney Mike Nifong kept pursuing criminal charges against the team, for months after he knew for a fact that the alleged attack had never occurred. (See "Collapse of Duke rape case represents cultural change")

Strauss-Kahn prosecutor Cyrus Vance might have been tempted to try the same thing, rather than defy his feminist masters and let a man falsely accused of rape go free. But he's certainly aware that Nifong ended up being disbarred for his behavior, and Vance may have felt that he had to do the right thing just to save his own skin.

Research by the Innocence Project has shown that some 5-7% of all rape accusations are fabricated.

Women who make false accusations of rape often have a motive of revenge, but not always. Historically, the most well-known false accusations of rape occurred in the 70 years following the Civil War. A white woman would accuse a black male of raping her, and the black male would be lynched, and that would be that.

Diallo's motive was probably not a high-tech lynching of Strauss-Kahn, but more likely pure money. The prosecutor Vance said that a day after the alleged rape, Diallo spoke to a drug dealer in prison for advice on maximizing her monetary gain. The conversation had been recorded.

Diallo may have been dreaming of a reaching a multi-million dollar settlement with Strauss-Kahn and living the easy life. Diallo's lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, was certainly looking for his share of that settlement. He was obviously furious at losing all that money as he ranted on the courthouse steps on Friday that Vance was afraid to prosecute the case.

Diallo is reportedly planning to come forward soon and tell her story to the world.

The story that Diallo told never made sense to me. According to Diallo, she wasn't supposed to clean a suite while the guest was still in it, but she entered because she thought it was empty. By that logic, she should have left the suite as soon as she heard any noise. But her story is that nude Strauss-Kahn opened the bathroom door, rushed over to her, threw her on the floor and raped her. I'm sorry, I don't buy it, not unless he was drunk or on drugs. Strauss-Kahn has a reputation as a womanizer, but no reputation for violence.

Strauss-Kahn says that any sex that occurred was consensual, and that's credible to me -- not because a pretty, young girl would be attracted to an elderly Strauss-Kahn, but because he may well have paid her. So you can blame Strauss-Kahn for stupidity, but the rape claims are not credible to me.

They should have lacked credibility to Vance as well. On the one hand, you have a single girl, a mother, who was highly motivated to make money any way she could, and on the other hand you have a world leader about to leave for the airport for a meeting next day in Berlin on saving the euro. And oh, by the way, he decided to beat the shit out of some girl before heading out. Based on the facts that were available at the time, the preponderance of evidence has always been on Strauss-Kahn's side, not on Diallo's.

Will Strauss-Kahn run for president of France next year?

Barring some incriminating revelation, it now appears that the charges against Strauss-Kahn will soon be dropped, probably at his next court appearance on July 18. In France, the question on everyone's lips is: Will he now run for President as the Socialist Party candidate against Nicolas Sarkozy?

In order for that to happen, he would have to apply to run in the primary by July 13. Members of the Socialist Party are feeling "intense relief" at the news of his release, and are considering extending the July 13 deadline for him, according to Le Monde (rough translation):

"The surprise release of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, following a brief court hearing ... has provoked many reactions with the Socialist Party to the idea, suggested by some, of an incredible return to politics next year in the presidential election.

François Hollande has said he had "no reservations against the idea to postpone the closing date for applications", originally scheduled July 13, after the release on parole of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. If DSK was cleared at the next hearing, July 18, this would allow it "to have the freedom to make a decision" in relation to the primary, said Mr. Holland, in "late July or even late August."

Less enthusiastic about changing the calendar, Arnaud Montebourg, himself a candidate for the Socialist primary, believes instead that the terms and timing of the primary "have, as is, no reason to change" .

"The release of Dominique Strauss-Kahn on his own recognizance is important news for him, his wife, Anne Sinclair , and his family. [...] The Socialists, for their part, must continue to chart their route to the victory of the left in 2012 to build all of New France."

However, most commentators are saying that Strauss-Kahn's political career has been irrevocably damaged, and that the most that he might hope for is to be finance minister in the cabinet of the next Socialist Party president.

On the other hand, there's been a lot of sympathy for Strauss-Kahn in France ever since this incident occurred. The French were appalled at the humiliating treatment he was given before he was even given a trial, let alone found guilty. A poll showed most French people thought that the whole thing was a setup, and now that he's been released, that view appears to have been confirmed.

The sad case of Susan Estrich

For feminists, rape isn't about women -- it's about money and power. That was never so apparent as in the sad case of Democratic Party strategist Susan Estrich.

In 1988, Estrich became national campaign chairman for Mike Dukakis' presidential bid. A year earlier, she had written a book called "Real Rape," where she described in highly personal terms how she had been raped in 1974. Through the 80s, Estrich devoted her life to being a rape victim advocate, and was devoted to their cause under the claim that no woman would ever lie about being raped.

I wrote a lot about gender issues in the 1990s, and read Estrich's book, and frankly found it impressive. I'm not saying that I ever bought into the whole feminist package about rape, but I did wonder if it was more of a problem than I had previously assumed.

Then in 1996 along came Paula Jones and her charges of sexual harassment at President Bill Clinton. Estrich became Clinton's principal defender, saying that even if Clinton was a harasser, defending him was the greater good, because Clinton is pro-woman. "You believe in principle. I believe in politics," she was quoted as saying to someone who disagreed with her.

(By the way, VP Al Gore was quoted as saying, "Most people are getting sick and tired of women coming out of nowhere and making unsupported sexual charges.")

Then along came Juanita Broaddrick, who credibly charged Clinton with having raped her. And who did I see on TV? There was Susan Estrich, the author of the book I had read, saying that maybe Juanita Broaddrick was lying about having been assaulted and raped, and women do indeed lie about being raped. And we really shouldn't take Juanita Broaddrick too seriously. I was ready to throw up. Here was someone, Susan Estrich, whom I liked and whose opinion I relied on, someone who was credible and likable, and who had impressed me with her story. And there she was, literally selling herself out to the Democratic party establishment. Other feminists did exactly the same thing. Later news stories indicated that the National Organization for Women (NOW) was paid off by the Clinton administration to keep quiet about the rape charges.

I quite honestly don't see how Susan Estrich can live with herself. She completely sold herself out as a woman and as a rape victim, and she sold out possibly thousands more women who had been raped and looked to her as a role model.

We might ask how many additional rapes have occurred because of Estrich's sellout? Apparently only Republicans can be rapists because they're "anti-woman," but Democrats can freely rape anyone they want, because they're "pro-woman," and the greater good is letting their rapes go unpunished. I guess that's why it's fun to be a Democrat. Or maybe Estrich was lying when she said she was raped in 1974. Who knows? Which story makes the most money?

Dominique Strauss-Kahn may be a Socialist, but he's obviously not a Democrat, since he was charged with rape. If he were an ordinary Republican without a lot of money, Cyrus Vance would have let him rot in jail forever, even if he knew that Diallo was lying. The only reason that Strauss-Kahn is getting past these charges is because he's wealthy enough (or, more accurately, his wife Anne Sinclair is wealthy enough) to hire high-priced lawyers and investigative teams.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jul-11 News -- France's politics in turmoil from collapse of Strauss-Kahn rape case thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jul-2011) Permanent Link
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