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Opinion

Abigail with attitude: Strauss-Kahn saga

The saga of Strauss-Kahn at the Sofitel hotel serves as the ultimate antidote to smugness. One must always remember that what the gods give the gods can remove.

The portly figure shifted uneasily on the bench. His hooded eyes darted anxiously around the packed courtroom. He seemed crumpled, diminished and shrunk in to himself as if to escape his burly police escorts. Despite the warmth of the day, he shivered. It was intolerable the way he had been treated. Bundled off a plane without ceremony, led to a car in handcuffs, his Blackberry confiscated. He hadn’t even been able to text Angela to tell her he wouldn’t make the meeting. And that ridiculously puffed-up prosecutor was so shrill and simple-minded. Of course, he hadn’t been fleeing the scene of a crime, he was merely trying to catch a plane so that he could save Europe. Which other international statesman had the skills and aplomb to diffuse the unfolding Greek tragedy? Such a fuss over a tussle in a towel. It was ridiculous. The Americans: they always overreact and understand nothing about the game called love. Right now, he didn’t want to think about his over-arching goal, the unicorn at the end of the rainbow. But from where he was sitting, his presidential aspirations seemed to have been parked in a cul-de-sac. Let’s face it, the Strauss-Kahn saga belongs more in the realm of fiction than fact. The former head of the IMF must think he has fallen asleep and woken up as a character in Tom Wolfe’s novel The Bonfire of the Vanities. Do you remember bond trader Sherman McCoy, a self-styled master of the universe whose perfect life suddenly veered off a cliff when he took a wrong exit on the drive back from New York’s Kennedy airport? The degradation that Sherman suffered in the Bronx prison holding cell led him to contemplate suicide. Ultimately, his wife divorced him and his legal battles left him impoverished – Park Avenue, the Hamptons and Wall Street but a distant memory. The theme of Wolfe’s impressive novel is how quickly life can unravel regardless of wealth, privilege and worldly success.

Strauss-Kahn’s misadventure is an allegory of our era. A man at the pinnacle of his glittering career, a man who hobnobbed with presidents and princes, is humiliated by a chambermaid. ‘DSK’, as he is known in France, was probably a year away from being the next French president. Now he might be a year away from rotting in the notorious Rikers Island jail. In court his status is the same, if not lower, than that of his accuser, a woman who must earn close to the minimum wage. Whether he is found guilty or acquitted, the saga of Strauss-Kahn at the Sofitel hotel is one of the most astounding stories that I have covered as a journalist. It serves as the ultimate antidote to smugness. One must always remember that what the gods give the gods can remove.

Abigail with attitude: Strauss-Kahn saga


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