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The French Conniption

(AP Photo/Jim Cole)
One of the featured stories on right now involves French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been vacationing on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. What news could possibly emerge from such a situation, you ask?
French President Nicolas Sarkozy lost his temper with two American news photographers covering his vacation Sunday, jumping onto their boat and scolding them loudly in French…

"The president was very agitated, speaking French at a loud volume very rapidly," [freelancer Vince] DeWitt said.

The photographers, incidentally, don't speak French themselves, something they tried to explain to the angry president as he yelled at them. (The whole thing has the makings of a wacky slapstick comedy, doesn't it? Is Gérard Depardieu available?)

Sarkozy, as you probably know, is new to his job. And it shows. The best way to make sure images of you in an otherwise boring situation get widespread exposure, after all, is to make a scene, as everyone from Britney Spears to Randy Johnson can tell you.

In the end, it could have been worse: the shirtless Sarkozy at one point "picked up DeWitt's camera but then put it down," suggesting that he has enough self-control to reign himself in before the story got any bigger. One of the first lessons of politics is that you can't let the press get to you, no matter how tempting it may be – an angry outburst, even if it's justified, almost always does more harm than good.

Hillary Clinton understands this: She has kept from losing her temper over the course of the presidential campaign, despite being confronted by hecklers looking to manufacture a YouTube Moment to use against her. It's part of the reason she has held her spot at the top of the polls.

Sarkozy, of course, is just coming off an election victory, so he can probably afford an odd outburst or two. But if he's going to survive, he's going to have to accept the media environment in which he now lives. Hours before the incident, he said this to reporters: "I am naturally ready to answer all your questions, and maybe afterward you will resume covering the news and other topics, and leave me tranquilly with my family." Fat chance, buddy.

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