The latest leaks from prosecutors suggesting that Strauss-Kahn's accuser is less than reliable may well result in an early settlement of the case. Strauss-Kahn, who is now out of a job, may even resurrect his campaign for president of France (once he gets has passport back), as the wronged victim of the Anglo-Saxon rush to judgment and media frenzy.
The French socialists have no other strong candidates. If it turns out that this was not a rape after all, the French incumbent, Nicholas Sarkozy, has at least as checkered a sexual past as Strauss-Kahn. He could even benefit from a sympathy backlash.
Instead of a belated victory for French feminism, l'affaire Strauss-Kahn and the French election could be a battle of the womanizers. Plus ca change!
As unreliable a witness as the accuser may turn out to be, there is still the lingering question of what actually happened in that hotel room. Money evidently did not change hands. And as we all know from the date-rape controversy, there is a complex spectrum that goes from consent to seduction to misunderstanding to coercion to outright rape.
Here is one theory:
Strauss-Kahn had a fairly normal lunch with his daughter at a nearby McCormick and Schmick's restaurant after his encounter with a housekeeper at the nearby Sofitel, reports The New York Times. According to his accuser, Strauss-Kahn imprisoned her in the room, tore her clothes, and committed oral rape.
Seemingly, to go serenely from the one activity to the other, Strauss-Kahn would need to be a sociopath. But there may be a simpler explanation, following the parsimony principle of Occam's famous Razor that the most straightforward explanation is often the accurate one.
Last month, stories were making the rounds in Europe that Strauss-Kahn's aides were in the habit of sending prostitutes to his room when he was in hotels out of town, you know, the way an underling might thoughtfully order flowers. The story is not proven, but it would help explain -- not excuse -- his behavior.
There's a knock on the door, a young woman enters. Strauss-Kahn expecting his hooker du jour to emerge naked from his toilette, and despite her protests he doesn't believe that she's not there to service him. This could be the parsimonious explanation for otherwise almost inexplicable behavior. On the other hand, image the defense trying to use it in his trial. "You see, your honor, my client was expecting a prostitute and didn't believe it was just the housekeeper."
One other detail that calls Strauss-Kahn's judgment into question: McCormick's and Schmicks? Really? This place, suggested by a friend for a meeting, was the site of my only mediocre and overpriced meal in New York. And he's supposed to be the ultimate French cosmopolitan? Maybe this is even exculpatory. A sophisticated diner confusing a chain restaurant with a decent New York eatery is almost capable of mistaking a housekeeper for a hooker.