Jean-Marie Le Pen has made another of the "gaffes" for which he is famous, proposing to make "an ovenload" of artists who denigrate his Front National. It's hardly news that the elder Le Pen is a past master of such dreadful double-entendres. This time is different, however. For the first time, his daughter has denounced her father's statement as "a political error" that has damaged the party, a sentiment in which she has been joined even more vocally by other party stalwarts, who have remarked that JMLP "a manqué une bonne occasion de se taire." In addition, Gilbert Collard has implied that because JMLP is now in his dotage, he has become a political liability to a party attempting to move from the cold into the mainstream and ought to retire.
In response to these events we have the usual chorus of conventional wisdom. JMLP's dérapage, some say, is actually proof that the FN has not changed and remains the neofascist bastion of anti-Semitism that it was. Others insist, on the contrary, that the swift condemnation of his remarks by top party leaders proves that MLP's FN is intent on shedding its old image and consolidating its new status as a, if not the, party of the governmental right.
One thing is certain: the FN can now actually envision wielding power, and this prospect has modified its approach to political rhetoric. It doesn't need to provoke to garner publicity. It has put forth a substantive critique of existing policy with which it can attract enough votes to ensure constant press coverage. JMLP's logorrheic excesses are no longer useful, and his daughter will do what she can to stop them. But the old man is cantankerous enough to defy her, and old men can be tough to deal with. I'm old enough to know.