His love life may be distracting and his poll ratings may be low, but Nicolas Sarkozy is "a tonic to his country and the most important European leader of his time," writes New York Times columnist Roger Cohen. In just 14 months the French president has led a sea change in foreign policy with the US, Israel, NATO, and North Africa. And on the domestic front, the former bedrock of Old Europe is now "on amphetamines."
There's lots to dislike about Sarko, from his "shameful" attempts to muzzle media dissent to his hardline opposition to Turkish EU accession. But the hyperpresident is a godsend to stultified France, a welcome change from earlier monarchical French leaders, and an antidote to the dourness of Gordon Brown and Angela Merkel. The proof Sarkozy has changed the nation? Even the Socialists are repping their love of the free market.