(AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Earlier today as I sat on the back deck of my house enjoying the warm New Hampshire weather and a Diet Coke, I thought I detected a sudden chill, a darkening of the cottony white puffs of cumulus floating above me, a foreboding tremor of the earth upon which my lounge chair rested.
No, it wasn’t a terrorist attack on our beloved Lake Winnipesaukee, where I live. It was French President Sarkozy, who is summering here, raging raging raging against the dark and AP photographer Jim Cole and freelancer Vince DeWitt who had the nerve to be staking out the French Prez near a buoy after getting permission from the Marine Patrol.
According to the Union Leader story, Sarkozy was more than a little miffed about what he viewed as an invasion of his privacy. Enraged sounds like a better description. He actually picked up DeWitt’s camera — was he planning to throw it overboard? Clearly, the man was out of control, unused to the “up-close-and-personal” tradition of gotcha journalism practiced in the USA on pols and celebs.
“The president was very agitated, speaking French at a loud volume very rapidly,” DeWitt said. I bet.
Sarkozy is renting a summer home in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where Mitt Romney, GOP presidential candidate also has a house. Most people pretend Mitt isn’t here (that’s how we Granite Staters treat most tourists from Massachusetts), but the president of France is another story indeed.
Many Americans still have fond memories of Freedom Fries and generally enjoy getting on the nerves of anyone French, just on principle. Plus, they are a little funny when upset. Somehow the French language seems more humorous than terrifying when used to express anger. The same thing said in German tends to evoke vivid images of death camps and barbed wire. I do tremble when accosted auf Deutsch. In French I just tend to giggle.
In any event, Sarkozy got angry, sounded funny yelling in French, threatened to throw a camera overboard, and generally just seemed very French.
After Cole and DeWitt promised to stop shooting photos for the day, Sarkozy calmed down, ate a few croissants, reboarded his boat and continued out onto the lake with his party, followed by a boat carrying U.S. Secret Service agents.
The French government in Paris had no immediate comment.