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French Politics

In the seven months since its launch, Arthur Goldhammer's blog French Politics has become an absolutely invaluable resource for anyone interested in France. In fact, I'd go farther. I think Goldhammer has a fair claim to be offering the best commentary on France available in the English language today. It is a good example of how the Internet has been transforming the news media. Simply sitting at home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, reading and watching the French media on line, bringing to bear his own formidable knowledge and experience, and posting in his spare time from his job as a translator and academic, Goldhammer does a much better job of telling and explaining what is going on in France than most Paris-based American reporters for places like The New York Times. For one thing, few of them have the knowledge of France or linguistic skills—by which I mean a really deep, fluent, conversational French—to develop sources or do investigating at a level where being sur place would really matter.

To be sure, like most blogs, Goldhammer's has a tendency to cater most assiduously to its most assiduous readers, and as a result has become less accessible over time to those who don't follow it regularly, or don't otherwise have a reasonable familiarity with things French. Entries this morning, for instance, refer casually to Rama Yade without identifying her as the well-known Senegal-born state secretary in charge of human rights at the French Foreign Ministry, and to "BHL"—otherwise known as the charismatic philosopher and media personality Bernard Herni-L