Barack Obama, after needling Nicolas Sarkozy in a rather unpresidential way yesterday--he said that it was "an excellent thing" that Sarko's newborn daughter would inherit her mother's looks rather than his--did him an extraordinary favor today by agreeing to sit for a lengthy interview in French and English by David Pujadas and Laurence Ferrari. The diplomatic justification was no doubt to show financial markets that the US and Europe are on the same page in dealing with the crisis. Sarkozy was the host of the G20, so he gets to stand in for Europe. But he is also an undeclared candidate to succeed himself as president of France, and Obama cannot have been unaware that he was doing a political favor for a leader with whom he has not always enjoyed warm relations.
Will it do anything for Sarkozy in the polls? There are too many opportunities for failure in the weeks ahead, but if the euro crisis calms, I wouldn't be surprised to see Sarko obtain a small boost from this evening's show, which eager commentators will seize upon as a sign of an impending comeback. The truth is that the fortunes of both presidents--Obama and Sarkozy--are hostage to events not entirely in their control.