Dominique Strauss-Kahn is now free to walk around New York and enjoy $700 meals of wine and truffles after he was released from house arrest yesterday. Strauss-Kahn had been accused of trying to rape a hotel maid and forcing her to perform oral sex, but her credibility has been called into question by prosecutors (there's some speculation she accepted cash for sex during her job). And the case's twists and turns have obviously thrilled and outraged the French a little more: The news of his release was called a "thunderbolt" and a "coup de théâtre" by Gallic newspapers.

Before his May 14 arrest, Strauss-Kahn was expected to challenge French president Nicolas Sarkozy next year. Socialist party leader Martine Aubry said she felt "immense joy" about the turn of events... "Speaking as a friend of DSK, I hope the American justice system will establish all the truth and allow Dominique to get out of this nightmare." The French were horrified by his perp walk, a practice familiar in the U.S. but unheard of in France because only those convicted of crimes are shown in handcuffs, and some of his allies suspected he was set up. The next question is: Can he stage a comeback? In France, people offered their varying opinions:

  • "People are not going to forgive him. At a political level, he is dead." (NY Times)
  • "I always thought he was innocent and I always said we should be careful about judging him. He was known to like women, but he didn't seem like someone violent." (Wall Street Journal)
  • "To me, no, he can't come back. But given the culture in France, if he is innocent, he could be viewed positively again." (Daily News)
  • He could become a "martyr." (Times)
  • "If he's freed, yes, he can have a second political life." (News)
  • "His reputation is tarnished forever. I think he can come back to French political life, but internationally he is burned." (Times)
  • "As long as he is competent I don't care what he does at home. That's his wife's problem." (WSJ)

The Manhattan DA's office has not dropped rape charges, because there is evidence of a sexual encounter. The Post's Andrea Peyser writes today, "The lowlife frog was revealed yesterday as something twisted. This is a man who enjoyed a glamorous doormat wife, a stellar career, and was fawned over by France's legion of lefties... As soon as he was done getting oral sex, Strauss-Kahn checked out of the hotel as fast as a scared bunny. Then he had lunch with his 26-year-old daughter, as if nothing special had happened."