Lesson for US

Last week, former culture minister Jack Lang became the latest Socialist Party notable to leap across the left-right divide in French politics, accepting a position on a constitutional reform committee that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is forming. Lang followed in the footsteps of Sarkozy’s foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, the founder of Doctors Without Borders. America’s presidential candidates could benefit by emulating Sarkozy, who has shrewdly confected a government that transcends party affiliations. Sarkozy’s plucking of eminent Socialists to serve in his Cabinet or on commissions like the one for constitutional reform, has already produced benefits. It has pleased the public by valuing competence over ideology, and it has weakened the Socialists by stealing away their stars and provoking even more rancor than usual among the old elephants.

Why cannot such an overturn happen in the New World? Displays of bipartisanship have been rare or nonexistent in the US of late. But imagine a President Hillary Clinton taking on Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska as her secretary of state; a President Rudy Giuliani appointing the former law professor Barack Obama as his attorney general. It would not be the first time the French helped out an American revolution. — The Boston Globe