Dirty tricks may be a dismal part of modern politics, but aren’t low blows supposed to be aimed at people from enemy camps? Evidently not in France, where a conservative parliamentarian is being accused by a fellow right-wing politician of plotting to set him up in a Moroccan sex scandal involving a minor.
And we thought we’d heard it all in the epic Dominique Strauss-Kahn saga.
The bizarre tale centers on two conservative members of France’s upper house of parliament, whose shared ideology — and neighboring constituencies in eastern France — haven’t prevented them from becoming bitter foes. Evidence of just how troubled that relationship is came on Aug. 1, when Jean-Louis Masson revealed an audio recording of fellow conservative Senator François Grosdidier telling another man that “the only thing left to do is take (Masson) out with a minor”. When his interlocutor suggests they stage a sex trap in Morocco, Grosdidier is heard replying, “When it explodes, I’ll warn (officials in the previous conservative government) ‘Don’t protect him: he’s the most whacked French politician there is’.”
Masson first gave the recording to Reuters on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, he reportedly gave it to French justice officials as part of a legal case for conspiracy against his fellow Senator. Grosdidier responded to Masson’s suit by filing a false accusation charge against him. Grosdidier not only insists the recording captured him joking with a known “liar who’s the target of several court cases”; he also says he “has to wonder if Jean-Louis Masson didn’t arrange” for the recorded conversation to happen in the first place in an effort to set Grosdidier up.
The bad news for Grosdidier is Masson isn’t the only person accusing him of various wrongdoings. Yet Masson is said to have gotten the recording nearly two years ago, and oddly only decided to take it public now. Who’s telling the truth? Eventually justice will decide. For now, however, the clash serves as a reminder of how division and rivalry helped contribute to the French right’s resounding defeat in general elections in May and June — and how stiff the competition is for the title of “most whacked” politician in France.