Blogging will be light for the next few days, as the McConnells will be in Paris. (I’ve been waiting to write that sentence for many years.) I used to know Paris fairly well and could speak at least decent French, sometime back in the ’70s. By now it’s all atrophied — my language, my ties to French friends, etc. But Paris is still something to look forward to.
Yet I wonder. I was there with my wife in the early 1990s and came back and wrote a New York Post column entitled “Why Paris Works and New York Doesn’t.” Since then the cities have gone in opposite directions, and one reads of seemingly incomprehensible events in Paris, cars being torched on the Blvd. Saint Germaine. New York in 1991, by contrast, seemed on an inescapable Detroit trajectory — at least a lot of people felt so.
Then came Giuliani, and his efforts to restore law and order to the city remains the most effective use of government power I’ve seen in my lifetime. TAC hasn’t been kind to him, but that’s of course due to his absurd foreign-policy positions, not his record as mayor.
I’m not sure how far Paris has fallen — in all my recent visits it was still beautiful. But France as a whole now struggles with the same issues of class and ethnicity that American cities have, though of course with differences.
Anyway, this is a pleasure trip: I plan to watch tennis, hang out in the Luxembourg Gardens, visit museums, eat and drink, etc. But I’ll read the paper, and may share insights on the new Hollande government, the prospects of “growth” versus “austerity,” and try to get a sense of shifts in French foreign policy. A bientôt.