Dear Dominique Strauss-Kahn, familiarly known as just DSK in haute-financial and political circles:
I owe you an apology.
I could scarcely keep myself from smirking when you were accused of sexually assaulting a chambermaid in one of those upscale hotels in Manhattan that no working stiff could ever afford. My chronic case of Francophobia went into overdrive.
The news story felt like a stereotype come to oh-so-satisfying life, validating my most cherished prejudices. Oh, I could just visualize the headlines in the tabloid presses:
DSK Nabbed!/ Pulled off his flight and jailed.
Power-Broker, Financier and Roue-in-chief Under Arrest
Next socialist president of France in custody/ after assaulting humble maid/unable to defend herself....
But now the case against M. Strauss-Kahn has fallen apart, with the New York district attorney's office expressing doubts about the maid's truthfulness and certainly about any chances of obtaining a conviction.
To quote the D.A.'s office: "In virtually every substantive interview with prosecutors, despite entreaties to simply be truthful, she has not been truthful, on matters great and small, many pertaining to her background and some relating to the circumstances of the incident itself."
The only questionable aspect about the prosecutors' decision to drop the case is why it took them so long.
But looking back, the person who's disappointed me most throughout this whole long, sordid affair has been ... myself.
After all these years in the business, you'd think I'd have learned to look at the evidence before leaping to the nearest conclusion. I hadn't.
M. Strauss-Kahn may be guilty, as he put it, of a "moral failing" (who isn't?) but that doesn't make him a criminal. Not until and unless a court says so.
My apologies to you, monsieur, and to the whole French nation for what I was thinking, and almost wrote. I hereby tender it -- in writing.
I won't do that again. I hope.
The Rev. Mr. Al Sharpton is back in the news. He's been chosen as host of MSNBC's weeknight news show, "PoliticsNation." With him in charge, it's bound to be more show than news. And the show won't be complete without a guest appearance by another name from his unfortunate past, Tawana Brawley. (See under Tawana Brawley Hoax on your nearest Internet site.) Both the Reverend and his client lost the defamation case that followed.
Or the Rev. Al could reminisce about his role in the Crown Point riots two decades ago, where his skills as an agitator shone, or at least glared.