Return of the Pink Panther?
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
It seems the French are speculating that the rape charge lodged against the front-runner for the Socialist nomination for president of France — Dominique Strauss-Kahn — is part of a plot of the kind lampooned in the Pink Panther movies. The more we inquire about the story the more we’re inclined to advise them not to let their imaginations run wild.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn is alleged to have tried to rape a hotel chamber maid in a $3,000-a-night suite at the Sofitel Hotel at Manhattan and then to have fled to JFK airport, where he was arrested in the first class section of an Air France flight moments before it was to depart for Europe. He is reported to have departed in such haste that he left a cell phone and some personal items back at the hotel.
No doubt it is true that Mr. Strauss-Kahn had his share of enemies, both within the Socialist Party and in the circle of President Sarkozy and for that matter in the National Front. The New York Times quoted the head of France’s Christian Democratic party, Christine Boutin, as suggesting that, as the Times put it, “amid the atmosphere of France’s presidential campaign, Mr. Strauss-Kahn may have been set up.”
Mr. Strauss-Kahn had previously been caught up in a scandal for carrying on an affair with a subordinate of the IMF, to which — and to whose employees — he had to apologize for an error of judgment. He also has been a high-profile French Jew at a time when hostility to Zionism has become what our occasional correspondent in France, Michel Gurfinkiel, a distinguished observer of the French scene, characterizes as the local epitome of political correctness. Mr. Strauss-Kahn has, in other words, as many enemies as a suspect in an Agatha Christie novel.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn is reportedly intending to plead innocent, and under the American system the accused is not required to prove anything; the burden is entirely on the prosecution. But our understanding is that the police detectives who were involved in questioning the victim making the allegations against Mr. Strauss-Kahn found her credible, consistent, and without signs of evasiveness. Surprises are always possible in life, but it is hard to imagine the New York Police Department becoming involved in — or falling for — a plot to discredit a French politician, no matter how many enemies he has.