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After Dominique Strauss Kahn was arrested charged with attempted rape he was paraded in front of the cameras looking disheveled and downtrodden, a man whose past transgressions had finally seemed to catch up to him. How could he not be guilty? Known as the great seducer in France, he himself had acknowledged his weakness with women and even speculated that a plot to bring him down might involve the accusation of rape by a women on the payroll of his political enemies. Then there is the supposed attempted escape to France, where extradition with the United States is a murky affair.  He was in such a hurry that he had even left his cell phone in the room. This seemed to be the classic case of a man in power taking advantage of a hotel maid and believing he could get away with it; at least that is the conclusion that nearly everyone came to. The truth, it seems, is much more complicated.

Before I go any further, I must admit to being a supporter of DSK; his work at the International Monetary Fund was excellent and brought the organization back to relevance. Despite being labeled a ‘champagne socialist’, he was well respected among his party, would have undoubtedly been their candidate, and very likely the next president of France. From what I know of his policy positions, I found him to be sensible and someone who could bring much needed stability to the Euro Zone crisis as well as a rational voice to France’s growing immigration problem (although I must admit to thinking that Mr Sarkozy has done an admirable job on this issue).

For weeks after his arrest, we were bombarded with tales of his womanizing ways and how he was, as Mika Brzezinski put it, a sleazy guy. I remember the round table of that particular morning show comming to consensus that because France would tolerate such a man in high office, it was a clear sign of their depravity and lack of morals. And while its true that a man like DSK could not attain public office in the United States, this is more a negative on our country than on France, but more on that later.

France meanwhile was shocked at the treatment of DSK; they do not have the celebrated American tradition of the ‘perp walk’ and take the presumption of innocence very seriously. Indeed who wouldn't look guilty being shown in handcuffs, unshaven and clearly shaken by the ordeal? Then to put the man in Rikers island because of an apparent flight risk seemed to some to be cruel and unusual given the circumstances. During this time another women, a French author and daughter of one of DSK’s socialist colleagues, claiming that he had attempted to rape her as well. For many this left his guilt beyond any reasonable doubt.

Then came the questions of the maids credibility. It had come out that she had lied about being raped before; in order to gain asylum in the United States. She had been reported as talking to a friend about the wealth of DSK and how she had known he was a powerful man. While forensic evidence had proved that some sexual encounter had taken place, it was becoming less clear if it was consensual or not. It was also revealed that DSK had had lunch with his daughter shortly after this incident and then proceeded to call the hotel from the airport and ask that his forgotten phone be brought to him. If he was indeed trying to flee a crime scene and leave for a country that would not extradite him, why call about the phone? It would have made much more sense to leave it. Meanwhile similar questions of credibility came up in regards to the French author; the supposed rape attempt had happened many years before and she had been seen joking about it on a French reality show. Why had she waited so long to come forward? Why would this be seen as appropriate television banter if it were true?

Out of this whole saga, a few things seem clear: Mr Strauss Kahn does not seem to believe in monogamous relationships, as he himself has alluded to. It also seems certain that some kind of sexual encounter happened at that New York hotel room. And while I do not subscribe to the theory that the maid was put up to this DSK’s political opponents (a theory that continues to have traction in France and one that is certainly a possibility) I do believe that this was an attempt to get money out of a man who had a large amount of it and a history that makes those actions seem plausible. Now it seems the charges will be dropped because of the questions surrounding the maids credibility.

I do believe that DSK is innocent of rape, although I would say he is guilty of bad judgement in having indulged in his personal failing of womanizing. But I would still vote for him in an election if given the chance, because none of this changes the fact that he is good at his job and can do a lot of good for the people he governs. I believe that a persons private life, if not breaking the law, should have little bearing on whether they are fit for office. I still get odd looks when I tell people I would still vote for John Edwards; I don’t care that he cheated on his wife while she had cancer (something that I certainly do not condone). What I do care about are his policy positions on poverty and the ways in which to fight it. I would still vote for Elliot Spitzer; as a NY resident I can tell you that suffering through 3 years of Patterson was far worse that Spitzer’s having sex with a prostitute.  And this is where I believe that France is ahead of the United States - they do not vote for the person who has the best smile or the one who you would like to have a drink with. And they don’t hold it against you if you have personal failings (because who doesn’t?) as long as you do your job well and help your constituents. Had we waited before assuming DSK was guilty, he might still have been able to do that job; now the future is very uncertain.


Do you think politicians private lives, if no laws are broken, should have any bearing on their ability to govern?

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76%10 votes

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Plubius, senilebiker

    Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners- Vladimir Lenin

    by Jaturner1 on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 09:55:22 AM PDT

  •  Edwards ain't no DSK (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Edwards, while running for President, knew he had an illegitimate child.  He did not reveal it.

    That shows extremely poor judgement.

    That poor judgment reflects on his ability to govern.   Because Edwards would have been unable to govern with all the hoopla about 1) lying and 2) having an illegitimate child.

    More to the point: Edwards would have lost the general election had he been the Dem nominee.  Lost the 08 election, which was our year.  In short, Edwards extremely poor judgment would have meant President McCain and VP Palin.

    It is absolutely unforgivable that Edwards was willing to risk what he did.  He put himself before our party, before our country.I am not sorry when I say that makes Edwards a persona non grata in my book.

  •  You are very brave (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trashablanca, CorinaR, debedb

    to step forward and support DSK here.   The rush to condemn him was unfortunate, in the US media as well as on this blog.  

    Although I agree with most of your diary, I would not extend such forgiveness to John Edwards who showed himself to be a cowardly liar, not an admirable trait in a presidential candidate.

    I doubt that DSK will be able to recover from this episode and go on to lead his party.  I think Martine Aubry will get the PS nomination.

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 10:05:21 AM PDT

    •  Socialist Candidat (0+ / 0-)

      She would be a good choice; I am personally pulling for François Hollande. However Sarkozy is a great choice compared to Marine Le Pen.

      Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners- Vladimir Lenin

      by Jaturner1 on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 10:12:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wasted my primary vote on Edwards (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MGross, debedb

    he has heaped shame upon himself for all time for his incredibly selfish and poor judgment. He deserves nothing but scorn and contempt. Feh!

  •  haha (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If I had thought this would turn into an Edwards discussion I would have left him out.

    Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners- Vladimir Lenin

    by Jaturner1 on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 10:16:07 AM PDT

  •  The presumption of innocence (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CorinaR, MGross, Bill W

    is an important value of the criminal justice system. It goes hand in hand with the burden of the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and reflects our societal value that it's better for a guilty man to go free than an innocent man to go to jail.

    You're talking in this diary about something else, though. You're talking about public opinion. I'd ask you to consider why you so clearly accept the story put about by DSK's lawyers (that the sex was consensual) over the woman's story that it was rape. I'd ask you to consider whether you are harboring a presumption of your own: that women lie about being raped.

    Certainly, there are troubling aspects about this complaining witness' credibility, just as there are troubling aspects about DSK's own past that would lead one to question his credibility. But between the two of them, neither one seems to deserve any presumption from public opinion. Clearly, there's not enough of a case to convict DSK, but that doesn't mean he is innocent.

    •  DSK (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      senilebiker, CorinaR, Mortifyd, Radiowalla

      The point of this diary is to show that DSK's political career is now probably over because people jumped to conclusions, showed him handcuffed, and decided that his history made him guilty. I did not come to the conclusion that he was innocent until the all the relevant facts had come out. I find it far more likely that he had consensual sex with this women (something he has done in the past) as opposed to raping someone (which there is no proof of him actually doing).

      Furthermore I find your comment about me possibly assuming that women lie about being raped to be extraordinarily offensive, and is a very large leap to take based on this diary. This particular women does have a history of lying about being raped, therefore it is reasonable that she may have done so again.

      Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners- Vladimir Lenin

      by Jaturner1 on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 10:27:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This particular man has a history (0+ / 0-)

        of being accused by women of sexually boorish behavior up to and including sexual assault.

        As a woman myself, I find it offensive that you would automatically believe his story over his accuser's, particularly given the disparity between his position of power and the hotel maid's. He could easily get her fired if she didn't cooperate; he knows it and she knows it.

        And, by the way, if he cared at all about his political career, maybe he should have been a bit more careful about choosing the women he tried to hit on.

        •  DSK (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Clearly you did not read my last post. I did not automatically believe his story over his accusers. I waited to judge until I had all the relevant facts and then came to a conclusion. I understand that he has a history but the fact that she does as well clearly means there is a reasonable doubt. For myself personally I do not believe he raped her, thats my opinion.

          However you seem intent on turning me into an apologist for all men who rape women, which clearly I am not. You do not see me asking you why you automatically believe that he is guilty and if you think that all men who are accused of rape are and deny it are liars. Thats because I assume that you, like myself, looked at the facts and came to a conclusion. And if your's is different than mine thats fine. But I have enough respect for the people who post on my blog not to make assumptions about them.

          Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners- Vladimir Lenin

          by Jaturner1 on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 11:35:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Correction (0+ / 0-)

            I should have said negative assumptions as I did assume that you came to a logical, well thought out conclusion.

            Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners- Vladimir Lenin

            by Jaturner1 on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 11:41:00 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You don't have all the relevant facts, though (0+ / 0-)

              All you have is what has been reported in the media, which is not the same thing, especially when one party is rich and powerful and the other one is not.

              I believe it is not possible for us to judge the truth in this matter.  I think if you go back over my comments you will notice that your assumption (that I "automatically" believe DSK is guilty) is inaccurate.

              There's been plenty of jumping to conclusions in this matter; let's not engage in any more of it here.

        •  I frankly find it hard to believe ... (0+ / 0-)

          that it was not rape. She had never been to his room before (and therefore, presumably, had never seen him before) and suddenly a consensual sex act occurs in the short period of time from when she entered to when she left?

          You would have to assume that she tried to seduce him, for whatever reason. (Otherwise, you assume a 32-year-old woman was instantly smitten by an old guy with the face and paunch of Dominque Strauss-Kahn?) Then you would have to assume an important man who has a plane to catch in a short period of time would suddenly drop what he is doing for a quickie with the hotel maid, a woman he had never seen before, although he's in a hurry to check out of the hotel. The seduction time alone would have to be significant.

          In my opinion, the DA found the case both hard to prosecute (i.e., no witnesses) and embarrassing because of intense diplomatic pressure to let Strauss-Kahn go. Apparently, the DA was all too eager to exploit minor discrepancies in the translated versions of the maid's account (translated from an obscure dialect of the African language Fulani) and the fact that she admitted embellishing the story of her rape in Guinea in order to gain asylum.

          As for this last point, note that she did not say she was not raped (as the DA deceptively attempts to imply) but rather that the circumstances were not exactly as she initially described. That's a huge difference. The DA wants people to think that Diallo admitted to lying about the very fact of having been raped in Guinea--which is apparently false.

          There's a lot to be suspicious of here. It really appears that the DA didn't want this case. It was just too great a political problem. So the DA, apparently, has distorted details and misrepresented facts in order to smear the victim.

          For a good takedown of the DA's contentions, see Saletan's article in Slate.

          •  I want to add, finally, that (0+ / 0-)

            this case really seems to be an instance of a powerful man getting away with the rape of a poor, powerless woman.

            I emphasize "seems"; we don't know the facts, but I find his defense hard to believe. (One of the statements DSK's lawyer made in the man's defense was that Nafissatou Diallo was unattractive. If so, then how did DSK become so quickly seduced--right before he had to catch a plane, on top of everything?)

            In any case, there are other rape charges awaiting him in France.

      •  If this had really been a frame up... (0+ / 0-)

        ...he'd probably be alright.

        The problem was, he really was banging random maids in hotel rooms... just not unconsensually.

        A unrepentant rapist (I would argue) is unfit to lead a modern democracy.  The problem is, the kind of guy who'd show the incredibly bad judgment to bang a maid in another country while head of the IMF and married is also unfit to lead.

        •  Can this be proved? I am curious ... (0+ / 0-)

          For everyone born, a place at the table, to live without fear, and simply to be, to work, to speak out, to witness and worship, for everyone born, the right to be free. [Shirley Erena Murray (1996)]

          by CorinaR on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 11:21:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Which part? (0+ / 0-)

            The having sex with the maid or people's verdict on his suitability to lead?

            The first has never really been contested, for the second, you'd pretty much have the poll the French people.

            •  The "just not consenually" part (0+ / 0-)

              was he charged?  has he reached out of court settlements? is this word of mouth?   was it like the Italian PM's pool/sex parties?  It makes a difference.

              For everyone born, a place at the table, to live without fear, and simply to be, to work, to speak out, to witness and worship, for everyone born, the right to be free. [Shirley Erena Murray (1996)]

              by CorinaR on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 01:19:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  hmmm.... so only really really NICE (0+ / 0-)

    people should be raped?

    dsk isn't "presumed innocent" - the prosecution had a witness problem.


    this diary clears up nothing.  not the situation and certainly not dsk's name.

    we will not ever know the full scope of this situation, but originally, the police felt there was more than sufficient evidence to charge him.  however, with an accuser who had lied on her original immigration app, she would have been torn to shreds by the defense team.  her background made her a poor witness.  it did not make her an okay target for sexual assault.

    It's the Supreme Court, Stoopid!

    by edrie on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 10:49:00 AM PDT

    •  As someone said succinctly in my diary last night (0+ / 0-)

      Only two people know what happened in that hotel room, and one is liar and the other is not talking.

      But it seems there is a third, as your last comment implies insider knowledge.

      "Lethality is the prime function of a firearm why pretend otherwise?" 2dimeshift!

      by senilebiker on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 10:59:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  OK ... I will go out on a limb ... (0+ / 0-)

    I understand your point to be this: We are too quick to jump to conclusions based on MSM and hysteria instead of seeing/waiting for the facts.

    The whole thing about justice is that it should be blind (or at least not always influneced by our own morality judgements) and also that we should be very sure of how we present our facts becasue we can ruin lives and kill people.

    Sometimes, we are so sure of what the judgement "should be" that justice falls by the wayside and gets smashed.  I think this is what happened in the Casey Anthony case ... she had already been tried, convicted and sentenced in the public areana so the prosecutors did a piss poor job of presenting the case. (For the record, I think she was probably guilty but the jury was honest in not going for the sloppy legal work of th AG.)

    Another thing that we do ... even we wonderful liberals ... is that we get on our politically correct agenda and do not investigate the facts. They are certainly free to do what is legal and also what their partner(s)/are is willling to accept. (I, personally, would not consider a relationship/encounter with the men you named and in all fairness they certainly would not even think of one with me). But we are too often exptremely ready to accept and jump on the right wing, Christian fundmentalist stated morality of a faithful monogamous relationship -- expressing it as "political correctness".  We shake our heads and turn away because we are embarrassed even if they did nothing legally wrong and we frequently don't wait for the facts.  

    The current PC hot buttons seem to be rape and race ... DSK's accuser had both. While I am glad that the police and the media took her seriously, I wonder why all of us were so ready to condemn with very few facts.

    I am all for "political correctness" because we need to be more sensitive in our language and our perceptions, BUT we cannot forget what it really means when we jump to conclusions too fast and don't give the benefit of a doubt or at least a second thought. Being judgemental, whether you are on the left or the right, precludes inclusiveness, diversity and justice.

    PS Frankly, I think that Edwards', Weiner's and Spitzer's real crime was being too dumb not to remember what was done to Bill Clinton and how politics in our country works.  DSK had different cultural expectations and got caught in a premature and unproven hysteria.  But those are my opinions and I am most definitely not a lawyer or a legal brian.

    For everyone born, a place at the table, to live without fear, and simply to be, to work, to speak out, to witness and worship, for everyone born, the right to be free. [Shirley Erena Murray (1996)]

    by CorinaR on Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 11:18:20 AM PDT

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