Friday, April 18, 2014

Morelle Resigns

Another nail in François Hollande's coffin? His close advisor and longtime friend Aquilino Morelle has resigned under fire, despite his having mounted a vigorous defense against Médiapart's accusation that he was involved in a conflict of interest because he consulted to drug companies while employed by the state agency charged with regulating them. Morelle claims he respected all the rules governing such outside work, but even if true, the "optics" of the situation were just disastrous for a regime already haunted by the Cahuzac affair, which lingered on for months as the accused vehemently denied all charges, even before the National Assembly, only to resign in even greater ignominy than when the truth was finally established. So, lesson learned: the story had barely broken when the new head of the Socialist Party began to hint that Morelle would have to go. Morelle posted his denial on Facebook, but today he resigned. And no doubt he was told to walk the plank.

Moi, président: everyone remembers François Hollande's anaphoric litany of all the things that would change when he was elected to replace Nicolas Sarkozy. France would defy the German insistence on austerity; unemployment would begin to decrease; the budget deficit would disappear; and exemplary behavior would become the norm at the top levels of government. It's all ashes now.

Governing is hard. There's no shame in making decisions that turn out to be wrong in the face of massive uncertainty, conflicting advice, and expert disagreement. Even in matters of ethics there are gray areas. But it should be obvious to any schoolchild that consulting to an industry you're supposed to be regulating crosses an ethical line. The only surprise is that this transgression took so long to surface.