[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/03/obama.sarkozy.getty.art.jpg caption="President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are welcomed by French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and French President Nicolas Sarkozy"]
French-American relations hit a very low point in 2003 when the French refused to support the American invasion of Iraq. Things got so bad that many Americans actually got behind a movement to CHANGE the name “French Fries” to “Freedom Fries”. Read the story. Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) actually held a press conference to pronounce that the House cafeteria would “rename the ‘French Fry’ to the ‘Freedom Fry’ because of our disappointment with the French.”
Since then the French elected a new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who embraced America so much he actually vacationed in the USA in the summer of 2007. Sarkozy was invited to speak before a joint session of Congress where he embraced “the American Dream.” Read his speech.
So, what’s with President Sarkozy now? Headlines on the eve of the G-20 Summit said that he threatened to stay away unless the United States got tough with financial regulation.
We asked a group of voters what they thought of Sarkozy’s threat. Jen Roberts of San Francisco said “it’s not the best way for Sarkozy to be approaching on the situation to threaten to walk out.” Selam Mesghina, also from California, said it was “a bit immature on his part.” But Roberts, Mesghina, and most others we interviewed saw Sarkozy’s statement as just a tactical move to advance the cause of France. No one had a bad word to say about the French people. The most recent Gallup Poll on the subject bears out improved feelings between the two peoples. See the results.
Some analysts think Sarkozy’s tough stance toward America was intended for the voters back home. Many French have “started to believe that (he) was promising too much and didn’t get the things done,” says French TV’s Benoit Sarat. Sarkozy’s approval rating on the economy has dipped to roughly 40%, and so standing tall among world leaders might improve his image.
Sarkozy did show up in London for the summit. He didn’t exactly get what he demanded, a powerful financial “global regulator,” but he did get something to take to the voters back home: more oversight over some of the hedge funds that were a part of the world economic collapse.
What do you think of current relations between France and the U.S.?