Friday, March 2, 2012

Hollande Holds Lead, Sarkozy Booed in Bayonne

The latest IFOP poll has Hollande slightly widening his first-round lead. Meanwhile, the president, on a visit to Bayonne, was jeered by a large crowd. Instead of keeping the hostile crowd at bay, as was standard practice earlier in his presidency (a prefect was removed from his post for letting an anti-Sarko crowd get too close), this time orders were apparently given to allow the jeering spectators to gather at the point where the president was to alight from his car. The cameras duly recorded the booing, and the president promptly blamed Hollande.

Was this scenario deliberately mounted? One can speculate that Sarkozy now feels that his only hope is to present himself as the bulwark between the status quo and the chaos of the unknown. You may not like what you have now, the unstated theme goes, but who will stop these hooligans if the Socialists get in? The president, showing himself calm, unruffled, and, in a word, "presidential" in the face of a raucous and disrespectful crowd, thus opens a new front in the image wars: Hollande may be portraying himself as the "normal" president, but behind him is the specter of la chienlit, to borrow de Gaulle's phrase for the May '68ers.

All's fair in love, war, and political campaigns.