by Flint Driscoll on May 28th, 2011

My opinion of the French is well-known. I have a poor opinion of the French. As for socialists, I can only refer you to my recent work of political philosophy, Our Friends the Arachnids, and to the fact that ants (clue: ants represent socialists)  are not arachnids, but insects. And insects are gross.

And yet I, Flint Driscoll, am not ashamed to call Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a French socialist, my friend.

How can this be, you ask?

Let me put it this way: my childhood confessor, Father Xavier Mularkey SJ, was the first to instruct me on the mysteries of morality and religion. Taking me on his lap, he would patiently explain the ineffability of the Godhead. Is God to be understood as the Jehovah of our folk religion, a personable if volatile father figure who watches from the sky, policing a check-list of silly taboos? Or is He the God of Aristotle and Plato and Aquinas: the prime mover, a creature of pure light and logic, who set the universe in motion and otherwise minds His own business – in other words, the deity as He is understood by the higher class of philosopher and clergyman? Only a very special boy would understand this sort of thing, he told me. It would be our secret. Dear old Father Mularkey… To this day, I cannot think of him without tasting a phantom Oh Henry bar… But why does the recollection also make me wince? Oh bitter-sweet mysteries of memory and loss… Of course, Proust was also a French man, but from what I have heard, I fear he may have been a homosexualist.

A Mandela for the gender wars

There is nothing funny, on the other hand, about Dominique Strauss-Kahn. I first met Dominique at a dinner party in Georgetown, and after I overcame my initial froideur I soon came to see that his understanding of socialism is, like Father Mularkey’s interpretation of the Book of Deuteronomy, of a higher, more cerebral order than that of the canaille in the Parisian street. I shall always recall him on one delightful balmy night on a palm-fringed beachside terrace in Antibes, proffering me a Cohiba Churchill with a wink of his eye. “Care for a socialist cigar?” he asked, with a tinkling laugh, and although I had to refuse – that bastard Castro is still somehow alive, damn him – I couldn’t help joining in the general merriment. Thereafter, whenever we bumped into each other in the corriders of power, I would salute him as “Dom Perignon”. He always took it in good part, and had his own pet name for me: I cannot print it here.

Dominique loves the good things of this life, and it fills me with sorrow to see him dragged through the gutter by the legal commissars of the People’s Republic of New York. The allegations against him are of course bunkum: why would a silver-haired charmer like Dominique need to force himself on some scrubber who would surely have got down on her knees for the merest chance to be of service to such a man as he? The whole charade smacks of entrapment: I note that the complainant is 1. a member of a labor union and 2. from Africa. Her motives for wanting to smear the courageous leader of the International Monetary Fund, the institutional vanguard of the free market crusade, are therefore clear. All she needed then was an opportunity. When it was presented to her in the Hotel Sofitel, she took it with both hands.

It is true that Dominque Strauss-Kahn is, as his French friends have freely admitted, a man who deeply loves women. A man with a twinkle in his eye. On my first visits to his homes in Washington and Paris  he was a kind and attentive host to both my former wives (I speak of separate occasions, naturellement), personally showing them around the apartments while I was dispatched to the store to buy milk, or rawl plugs. It was not without a pang of male jealousy that I noticed how thereafter they would turn silent and pale when in his presence. He had clearly make an animal impression on their tender female natures, so much so that, on one facile pretext or another, they both refused to trust themselves alone with him. Indeed, my continuing friendship with him contributed to the strains that, alas, finally ended both my marriages. As for female domestics, they were so in awe of Dominique’s masculine charisma that they couldn’t keep their eyes off him, even if this meant moving around the room with their backs to the wall.

So let me say this now: Dominique Strauss-Kahn is innocent. I am as sure of this as I have ever been of anything. Which is very sure indeed. Free him, in the name of all that is true, and decent, and honorable. Free him, lest he become another Mandela. Free him. Free him now.