Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Sordid Details

The sordid details of the alleged sexual attack by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund, are indeed shocking. Also distressing–obviously in a different context–is the fact that he was staying in a $3000-a-night hotel suite in New York, the site of the alleged crime. Never mind that upon his arrest, he was pulled out of the first-class section of an airplane that was about to depart JFK for Paris; in my experience as a foreign correspondent covering international financial organizations, I found that representatives for these institutions generally considered themselves entitled to such perks. (Indeed, one World Bank rep I knew refused to leave the airplane after landing in a central African nation when he was denied access to the airport’s VIP lounge.)

The IMF has said that Strauss-Kahn was in New York on private business; ostensibly he was paying for the suite out of his own pocket. His wealth clearly would allow for that. He’s married to the American-born French journalist Anne Sinclair, the daughter of a fabulously successful art dealer. Still, there’s something unsettling about such overt conspicuous consumption from the man who’s responsible for helping to draft the draconian austerity measures to bail out Greece and Portugal, for dictating to profligate and corrupt developing countries the tough terms to reschedule their foreign debts.