Sakset/Fra hofta

Jacques Chirac ga et intervju til internasjonal presse mandag, hvor han sa sleivete ting som at det ikke var så farlig om Iran ble atommakt, og at Teheran ville bli utslettet øyeblikkelig hvis det ble sendt raketter mot Israel. Det er den slags ting en president aldri kan si.

Dagen etter innkalte Chirac på nytt, og nå var han sitt gamle jeg og gikk tilbake på alt han hadde sagt. Han hadde selvfølgelig aldri ment det slik.

Chirac hadde slag i 2005, og mandag var han også merkbart ute av balanse.

In the midst of his initial remarks on Iran, Mr. Chirac’s spokesman passed him a handwritten note, which Mr. Chirac read aloud. «Yes, he’s telling me that we have to go back to the environment,» Mr. Chirac said. He then continued a discussion of Shiite Muslims, who are by far the majority in Iran but a minority in the Muslim world.

«Shiites do not have the reaction of the Sunnis or of Europeans,» said Mr. Chirac, who over the years in private meetings has expressed distrust of Shiite Muslims.

The president had a different demeanor during the two encounters.

In the first interview, which took place in the late morning, he appeared distracted at times, grasping for names and dates and relying on advisers to fill in the blanks. His hands shook slightly. When he spoke about climate change, he read from prepared talking points printed in large letters and highlighted in yellow and pink.

By contrast, in the second interview, which came just after lunch, he appeared both confident and comfortable with the subject matter.

The attempt by Élysée Palace to change the president’s remarks in a formal text is not unusual. It is a long-held tradition in French journalism for interview subjects — from the president to business and cultural figures — to be given the opportunity to edit the texts of question-and-answer interviews before publication.

Chirac Strays From Assailing a Nuclear Iran