Reform is France!

Royal2The French political establishment will be choking on their brioche this morning. Not only will the next presidential election likely be a contest between a woman and the son of an immigrant, but the masses find the female candidate to be as attractive physically as she is politically. A poll in the French edition of FHM places Socialist Ségolène Royal as the sixth sexiest women in the world. The Daily Telegraph reports that the "52-year-old mother of four" beat out Penelope Cruz and Jennifer Lopez.

Royal's success is evidence of the buzz surrounding her possible candidacy, and it is only going to get louder. I was chatting to a Paris-based journalist last week and there is real excitement about how fun it would be to cover a "Sego" v. "Sarko" race—it is the match-up the media crave. The polls show that it's also the contest the public wants. But, as The Economist notes, in the history of the Fifth Republic, no poll has correctly predicted the final two candidates a year out.

All the signs, though, suggest that France is at long last ready for real change, perhaps validating the thesis that the rejection of modest labor liberalization earlier this year was, counter-intuitively, good for the reformist cause. 2007 is shaping up to be a vintage year for French politics.


Fighting crime: Another one of Oprah's favorite things

As if you needed any more proof that Oprah Winfrey is among the world's most powerfuloprah  women, she's also a one-woman crime-fighting machine. Or, at least, the FBI thinks so. It has devoted an entire Web page on its site to the sexual predators Oprah has profiled on her show. It's great that these criminals are getting as much publicity as possible, increasing the chances of their capture. But does the fact that the FBI is getting its tips from the Oprah Winfrey Show kind of terrify anyone else?