For a time. Once the frenzy of the nominating campaign was over, Royal proved a candidate so weak as to horrify the Socialist rank and file. For a politician who speaks so often about listening to ordinary people, she is authoritarian in private, according to Eric Besson, a snubbed top aide who gave a bestselling book-length interview this spring before defecting to the Sarkozy camp. She does not have an intellect of the very top caliber and she is not built for the unglamorous, reflective business of organizing, course-setting, and administration. In a way that will remind Americans of their own president, she misspeaks almost constantly. A practical joker got her cell phone number and tricked her into endorsing the independence of Quebec. On a trip to China, she told an official that France could learn a lot from China’s speedy justice system. Meaning to attack one of her detractors for his misplaced wit (esprit), she accused him of spiritualit√ɬ© (spirituality). People understood what she meant, but it was like calling Greeks “Grecians.” ~Christopher Caldwell