Dominique Strauss-Kahn may have lost his shot at the French presidency, but after months of legal troubles, including his two-day stint in a French jail this week, there are still people who want to hear the former International Monetary Fund director speak about things other than his sex life. He's doing it quietly for the most part, but since he returned to France last September, Strauss-Kahn has started rebuilding his public persona. He even has two speaking engagements booked next month. Clearly Strauss-Kahn still wants to have a say in global economic issues, and, amazingly, people are willing to listen and take him seriously. But whom?
The Cambridge Union Society, for one. The private Cambridge club hosts regular debates and speeches from a range of figures. Last March it heard a rare address from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and in 2007 Col. Muammar Qaddafi addressed the club via satellite, "issu[ing] a defiant call for Western powers to stay out of Africa," according to the club's site. On its schedule, where Strauss-Kahn is booked March 9, the club describes him as follows: "Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a French economist, lawyer and politician. He served as the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 2007 until his resignation in 2011. He was previously a professor of economics at the Sciences PO and the French Minister of Economy and Finance." That's all true, but the fact that the description omits Strauss-Kahn's recent, um, troubles is either generous or disingenuous, depending one one's view of his arrest for sexual assault in New York and the two days he just spent in a French jail while being questioned in an investigation into a prostitution ring.
Strauss-Kahn is also due to speak at a March 27 conference with Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels, according to Reuters' story about his recent jail time. But whoever's organizing that conference is keeping the details quiet. A news site called The Universal News ran a report in late January saying Strauss-Kahn would be appearing at the European Parliament, and it mentioned Juncker, but the incoherent or poorly-translanted writing in the story makes it hard to trust: "Back to deal with economic crisis, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former Director General of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), accused by some blast of them forced to sexual violence: 27 March will be at EU Parliament, MEPs called on the under-40, to talk about global economic prospects with the president of the Eurogroup Jean-Claude Juncker." Nothing on the European Parliament's site confirmed the March 27 speech.
Strauss-Kahn said nothing publicly for the entire length of his ordeal in New York, where he was accused of trying to rape a hotel maid in May 2011. After the charges against him were dropped, he visited the IMF office in Washington D.C. and then left the country. Since then, Strauss-Kahn has spoken publicly just once about the criminal probe -- when he sat for an interview on French television in mid-September.
After that, Strauss-Kahn stayed quiet until December, when he made his first formal address since the criminal probe, to an audience in Beijing. In the speech, Strauss-Kahn discussed the Eurozone crisis and said French and German leaders didn't understand each other. But what he said made less of an impact on the press than where he said it. "Dominque Strauss-Kahn Tries to Make a Political Comeback in China," blared the Telegraph's headline. "Former IMF boss Strauss-Kahn appears in Beijing," touted Bloomberg Businessweek. "Strauss-Kahn returns to public stage in China," wrote Reuters. The suggestion at the time seemed to be that Strauss-Kahn had to book appearances on the other side of the world, thanks to his troubles in the United States and Europe. But his recent, quiet move toward something that looks like a speaking schedule suggests that some in Europe -- and in the rest of the world -- still want to hear what he has to say.