Christine Lagarde: “a woman who dominates without domineering”

Christine Lagarde (Istvan Banyai)

As I read Maureen Dowd’s column about Christine Lagarde in The New York Times (“For Office Civility, Cherchez La Femme,” Sunday, May, 29, 2011), I was reminded of a conversation years ago during a reception in Washington (DC) honoring the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James. One of his aides observed that diplomacy is “letting others have it your way.” France’s current as well as first female finance minister, Christine Lagarde, includes that strategy among her options but leaves no doubt that she is an independent thinker who refuses to play “little boys’ games.”

Consider these brief excerpts from Dowd’s column and what they reveal about Madame Minister.

On her love of the sea: “I think I must have been a dolphin in a previous life.”

She was “born independent.”

When suggesting in a speech that her countrymen abandon “their old national habit” of over-intellectualizing: “Enough thinking, already! Roll up your sleeves.”

Her initial response to the collapse of Lehman Brothers: “Holy cow!”

After she “elbowed her way to the top tier of the legal community in the “City of Broad Shoulders,”  she once warned “the boys” on her team in the Baker & McKenzie law firm of the dangers of “hairy chested” testosterone.

She believes that women in the arena of career competition  – “If they accept to be themselves and not play boys’ games” – can “make it a bit more civilized, bring it back to normality.”

As to whether or not she has ever been sexually harassed, “No. I’m too tall [i.e. 5’10’]. I’ve been in sports too long,” she says, flexing the muscle under her black Ann Taylor jacket. “They know that I could punch them.”

Alas, Christine Lagarde was not born in the United States and thus is ineligible to seek a party nomination to run for president of the United States.

However, she may well be the next managing director of the International Monetary Fund.


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