Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SVU and the French Connection

Writers and producers of the TV drama Law and Order: Special Victims Unit must be wearing grins as long as the Brooklyn Bridge. For them, the arrest of world heavyweight political-finance guy Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 62, on serious sexual assault charges is manna from heaven.
Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund and powerful French Socialist politico has been sitting in the noisy and dangerous Rikers Island jail since being arrested by NYPD on the weekend. If you watch Law and Order, you have an idea just how far removed Rikers is from Monsieur Strauss-Kahn’s rich and privileged world.
Law and Order episodes often are based on real cases, and this one is bound to show in future. The real SVU took Strauss-Kahn into custody and the charges against him were laid by SVU Detective Steven Lane, shield 03295. One hopes that Detective Lane does not have an anger management problem like Detective Elliot Stabler in the TV show.
Strauss-Kahn had been poised to win the French presidency in the next election. Now he will stand trial on charges of confining a Sofitel Hotel maid and trying to rape her. His time before the courts will not be helped by his admitted affair with a married IMF employee, and an alleged sexual assault on a young novelist during an interview. He is publicly known in France as “the Great Seducer.”
The prosecutors and the defence lawyers already are doing their pre-trial dog-and-pony shows. Strauss-Kahn was made to do the famous NYPD perp walk, while his defence team is working the media with teasing tidbits about how they already have the stuff to prove their guy innocent.
Well, the courts will sort through all this and decide whether Strauss-Kahn is innocent or guilty. What they will not decide is why people like Strauss-Kahn become seduced by power and wealth.
The man is a Socialist. Yet he stays in a $3,000-a-night suite at the Sofitel, wears $7,000 suits, travels first class and drives wildly-expensive sports cars. He earns roughly $500,000 a year (tax free no less). He is married to millionaire art heiress Anne Sinclair and they have a $5-million Paris apartment, vacation home in Morocco and a place in Washington, D.C. No one begrudges him the wealth, but you would think France’s top Socialist would be a little less haughty and more restrained in flashing it about.
Until now, he has lived under the protection of the French code in which sexual indiscretions are not for serious public discussion. The French like their politicians to display sexual prowess as a sign of vigor for leading. “Live happy, live hidden,” the French say.
That’s not the way NYPD’s Special Victims Unit sees things. Stabler, Benson and Fin would not be amused. Watch for the real-life show in the New York courts, then wait for the Law and Order: SVU version.

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