Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Perils of Victory

How much easier it was for the Socialists to be in opposition than to govern. The contradictions that have always riven the party were relatively muted--at least in the sense that un panier de crabes is mute. Now les éléphants, trumpeting loudly, are trampling one another to death. Or are they piranhas taking bites out of one another? Animal metaphors are endless, and poor J.-C. Cambadélis can no longer ignore the blood in the water: moments ago he issued a "solemn call" for "unity."

Yesterday, Hollande bestowed a medal on his prime minister, which gave him the opportunity to remark that the Republic always needs an homme de synthèse. He could not help snickering at his bon mot, since clearly he sees himself slipping once again into the comfortable middle-of-the-road, not too hot, not too cold, not too left, not too right role he played as party leader. It's his comfort zone.

Unfortunately he is now president of the Republic, and people expect him to lead rather than triangulate--or snicker at his own jokes. Aubry's weekend blast seems to have loosened other tongues. Benoît Hamon announced that the rightward turn of the party under Valls was a "threat to the Republic" that promised "an impending democratic catastrophe," a rather elaborate way of warning that the Front National is going to win more votes in 2017 than the PS. Everyone now takes this as a given. Who would have thought that victory in 2012 would lead to this Bérézina? Like Napoleon in Russia, the PS is discovering that apparent victory is sometimes a prelude to abject misery.