I was reminded of this devastating analysis of the sloppy case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn when I read that his wife, Anne Sinclair, is taking over the French version of The Huffington Post. This factoid was reported in Mediabistro, an online publication founded almost a decade ago by Laurel Touby and whose financing was put together by the sagacious investor Bill Ackman and by less sagacious me. In any case, Sinclair is now being dissed by her colleagues at Le Monde for sticking by and up for her husband in New York’s great spring celebrity scandal after he was charged with raping a maid at an overrated Manhattan hotel. After which Cyrus Vance, the son of the oh-so-haughty late secretary of state of the same name and recently elected district attorney of New York, had not only indicted the head of the International Monetary Fund but launched an intense press campaign against him.
The truth is, however, that at the beginning I tended to believe the accusations, having heard from friends in Paris that Strauss-Kahn had the reputation of being a lecher. One lady-friend actually told me that he had followed her out of Yom Kippur services a few years back at the grand synagogue—the Rothschild synagogue!—on the rue des Victoires. But the D.A.’s tactics gnawed at me. And, then, Bernard Henri-Levy defended the accused, and Levy has a lot of ethical credit with me. (He was just then appealing to Sarkozy for the battle against Qaddafi, a historical cry which actually made real history.) By that time, Vance was in retreat. He gave up the fight…which means he gave up the ghost of Strauss-Kahn’s guilt. Rarely has a prosecutorial war collapsed so utterly. And without cost to the prosecutor.
Who really knows? Dominique and Anne are on the left, and he was just about slated to be the Socialist candidate against Sarkozy's re-election bid. Still, the left had nothing but venom for S-K. I have my own suspicions about the sources of this hatred. OK, laugh at me: but it is because he and his wife are passionate Zionists, public Zionists, a sin among the progressives of Paris. Anyway, it isn’t as if the French political class is pure. Sarkozy, for example. Or Mitterand, for that matter.
In any case, these reflections were roused by my memories of Edward Jay Epstein’s truly dazzling take-up of the entire case. It was published in the December 22, 2011 issue of The New York Review of Books but appeared somewhat earlier and made something of a stir. But not enough of a stir. Titled “What Really Happened to Strauss-Kahn?” it also told you what didn't happen to Nafissatou Diallo. On the other hand, the New York district attorney’s first story still has party-line currency. Also try mentioning Edward Jay Epstein’s proven thesis, James Jesus Angleton: Was He Right?, available at Amazon and on Kindle, at a dinner party. The guests will think you a nut case.
Martin Peretz is editor-in-chief emeritus of The New Republic.