Will BHO tack to center like Sarko?

Rush Limbaugh’s giddiness since the Republican election loss has proved infectious among French advocates of American conservatism, admittedly a rare breed but a committed one nonetheless. Why the Gallic mirth? Well, consider this. During the French presidential campaign back in early 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy pledged that, if elected, he would bring profound change to economically sclerotic France. “La rupture” he dared call it to liberal and even some center-right catcalls and hisses.

About 18 months on, those previously doing the catcalling and the hissing are now cheering and blowing kisses to their Nemesis-turned-fellow-traveler. How come? Well, in France’s predominantly leftist political culture, President Sarkozy has realized that his approval ratings as well as his chances of reelection in 2012 depend to a large extent on his ability to tack to the left.

Judging by his social and economic record so far, his reelection campaign started about a year ago. He calls it “pragmatisme”. Let’s take it for what it really is and call it Socialism, the “spread-the-wealth” kind of Socialism America voted for more than a week ago. Even on foreign policy, Sarkozy is turning out to be a typically French fair-weather friend, gesticulating against America’s Missile Defense just to placate his KGB pals over in the Kremlin.

Given la rupture’s slim hopes of survival in post-election worlds, President-elect Obama’s “Change we can believe in” may well follow Sarkozyesque revert-to-cultural-type political meanderings after all.

In other words, in a (still?) predominantly center-right country like the United States, Obama may well realize that sticking to some lite version of pro-family-strong-defense-tax-cutting conservatism is his best political option.

Even Rush himself not so facetiously let the cat out of the electoral bag a few days before the vote. In a brief exchange with Rudy Giuliani over Joe Biden’s Obama’s-gonna-be-tested-gaffe, Rush hinted that Biden’s pleas to liberal faithful for support of Obama’s response might actually imply that the next president would be as tough as George W. Bush.

Nothing for conservatives to worry about then? Maybe so, unless a majority of the American people, including 20% of conservatives, are so enamored of Sarkozy and Socialistic France that they are prepared to take their cue from Tocqueville’s ill-advised descendants and ditch freedom for the smothering embrace of Welfarist paternalism.

In that case, freedom will have been no more than one election cycle away from extinction. Conservatives, French and American alike, would then all be laughing on the other side of their faces.

Note: “Paoli” is the pen name, er, nom de plume, of our French correspondent. Monsieur is a close student of European and US politics, a onetime exchange student in Colorado and a well-wisher to us Americans. He informs us the original Pasquale Paoli, 1725-1807, was the George Washington of Corsica.