President Sarkozy has fallen foul of intellectuals and critics who see his passion for jogging as un-French, right-wing and even a ploy to brainwash his citizens.
Attacks on Mr Sarkozy’s pastime, which he has made a symbol of his presidency, began on the internet as soon as he bounded up the steps of the Elysée Palace in shorts when he took office in May. That moment has become the icon of his hyperenergetic administration. The grumbling has now moved to television and the press.
“Is jogging right wing?” wondered Libération, the left-wing newspaper. Alain Finkelkraut, a celebrated philosopher, begged Mr Sarkozy on France 2, the main state television channel, to abandon his “undignified” pursuit. He should take up walking, like Socrates, Arthur Rimbaud, the poet, and other great men, said Mr Finkelkraut.
Perhaps if he had a butt hanging off his lips and stuffed un livre de poche in his jogging pants, they would forgive him. American politics is petty, but we are no match for the culture universelle.