Many of the problems with Ségolène Royal's campaign for the French presidency probably had to do with her early tendency to make assertions that were off the mark and then back-pedal on them. I still think her finest hour came with the remark she made after the first round:
I'm today holding out my hand ... to all those who think that human values must always prevail over financial and market values.
Unfortunately, her "last word," while neither financial nor market-based, seemed to indicate that she held political values over human values:
It is my responsibility today to alert people to the risk of [Sarkozy's] candidature with regards to the violence and brutality that would be unleashed in the country [if he won].
Royal is probably still smarting from the aplomb with which Sarkozy kept his cool during the Wednesday night debate. If politicians are still learning from the impact of television on the Kennedy-Nixon debate for the 1960 presidential election in the United States, then Sarkozy was definitely the better pupil. Unfortunately, fear is not particularly consistent with an effort to endorsement of "human values;" and all she did was give Sarkozy another opportunity to display his cool-under-pressure personality and his skill with guarded but barbed language. Of course the Fat Lady has not yet sung, but it is probably hard to find any optimists among the French socialists on the eve of the actual election.