NYRB: In Sarkoland
"A group of American campaign experts was invited to France in April by the French-American Foundation. They were impressed with the French candidates' use of the Internet, especially Sarkozy's site, and astounded by how little money could legally be spent ($22 million—€16.2 million—per candidate, mostly government-supplied), by the campaigns' non-use of focus groups, and by the strict equal-time limit on television appearances of each of the twelve candidates (including two Trotskyists, the Greens, a hunting and fishing candidate, etc.). What most shocked one of the Americans was that Ségolène Royal had allowed herself the bikini photograph. That would ruin her in America, said Barbara Comstock, a Bush (not Clinton) adviser. 'You want to look like a commander.'"
It's all about appearances over here. Will we ever get over this? Maybe if we limit the amount that can be spent to $22M and adhere to strict equal time rules AND limit the amount of TV time that can be purchased.