Protecting Strauss-Kahn from the charges by Diallo would prove to be a harder exercise than those earlier scandals, but Sinclair has reportedly taken the same pose and is also convinced that this fiasco is little more than a piège, a trap, set by political enemies. Strauss-Kahn at first talked about the possibility that the Russians were involved, since they were looking to topple him from the IMF, and he’d even asked people to remove their batteries from cell phones when they visited him, wary that the Russians might be listening in. A couple weeks before the incident with the maid, he gave an interview to the French newspaper Libération in which he mentioned his three biggest obstacles in running for president: “Money, women, and being Jewish.” He continued, “Yes, I like women … so what? … For years now there’s been talk of photos of giant orgies, but I’ve never seen anything come out … So show them already!” He then envisioned a scenario involving “a woman [he is supposed to have] raped in a parking lot and who has been promised 500,000 or a million euros to invent just such a story.”
The price, for Sinclair, of admitting that Strauss-Kahn is, if not a rapist, some sort of cretin who behaves in a disgusting way with women may be too high—a loss of identity, admitting that this is the end of her dream. Strauss-Kahn’s case will likely remain unresolved until the end of August, when, most sources assume, the prosecutors will dismiss charges unless new information is forthcoming.
There is likely a future for Strauss-Kahn in France, eventually. The moment is right for a Socialist to win the presidency, and if that happens, they might even elect him prime minister—though that might be too much work in the trenches, and he might not like that.
Will Nafi Diallo’s case end up like Tawana Brawley’s? There is still no consensus in the city about what happened between Strauss-Kahn and Diallo, and everyone seems to believe that their version of events is absolutely correct. Men, in general, think that the idea of forced oral sex is somewhat preposterous, as no man would risk a pair of snapping jaws down there; women, shocked by this assertion, explain that this would be easy enough to force a woman to do in the right physical position, and that the act feels compelled half the time anyway. It seems probable to me that Strauss-Kahn acted violently toward Diallo, or at least disdainfully, whether or not there was a discussion or anticipation of payment before or after the act, and this upset her so much that she was still torn up about it when she saw her supervisor roughly twenty minutes later, with things progressing from there in a way that she never could have imagined. It’s a sad truth that you cannot take down a man like Strauss-Kahn—even if he’s guilty—unless your past is pristine.
Kenneth Thompson’s tactics in putting Diallo out in front of the cameras bring to mind the infamous race cases of the eighties and nineties, and some insiders have suggested that Vance may encounter problems with the African-American community during the next election cycle if the case ends up being dropped. As always, the stakes are not only justice but money—a language that all involved understand.
These days, at the Tribeca townhouse, there are still some desultory protests, usually involving about a dozen people holding eight-by-ten sheets of paper on which they’ve printed RAPE IS NOT A HUMAN RIGHT (UNLESS YOU’RE RICH, POWERFUL, AND WHITE). (A rumor goes around that the protesters have each been paid $50 by Thompson to show up; he says, “I can assure you I do not pay a dime to set up a protest.”) A few reporters and photographers gather to hear what they have to say. “We’re just asking for justice for the victim, and until this man is brought before a judge and a jury, we’re not going to be satisfied,” says a male black protester. “This is not about race; this is about a human being who made a complaint, and I don’t care if she’s transgender or if she’s polka dots, she deserves her day in court.”
“Your attitude would be the same if he was not a rich white male but a poor black male?” asks a French reporter.
“Of course!” he says, then pauses. “But now, you know we wouldn’t be here if this was a black male accused of rape. Nuh-uh, he’d already be in prison.”
One would think that Strauss-Kahn and Sinclair might have heard this protest from inside, where Strauss-Kahn usually plays chess on his iPad to pass the time and a series of male maids (they’ve hired no females) cater to his needs. But that week, Strauss-Kahn and Sinclair had started to take things out of the home, bit by bit—a piece of luggage here, a laptop bag there. Then they escaped to the leafy respite of Tanglewood for a Boston Symphony Orchestra concert conducted by Kurt Masur. It was Sinclair’s 63rd birthday, and she wanted to hear some music. She sent a mass text message to her friends around then, saying that she still felt she was “right not to have any doubts” about Strauss-Kahn. Then she added another thought. “Let us not,” she wrote, “forget those who spit in our face.”
Additional reporting by Andre Tartar.