Monday, January 5, 2015

La Sauce Hollandaise

How time flies. I see that my last post was about President Hollande's New Year's greetings to the nation, and here it is January 5 and I am obliged to write again about Hollande communicant without any intervening post. This is a measure, I suppose, of the immobility of French politics. It seems that we have been in suspended animation now for months, awaiting the final passage of the Loi Macron, which assumes larger and larger symbolic proportions as the extreme limitation of its actual content comes more clearly into focus.

This morning's 2-hour radio event is also a measure of Hollande's desperation to appear in command. His advisors no doubt told him that his New Year's intervention had not inversé la courbe de la popularité, despite having been conducted in the magisterial manner sous les ors de la République, as the saying goes. So now, less than a week later, we have reverted to the original formula of le quinquennat: le président normal goes to the studio himself, rather than having the interviewers come to him, and he takes calls from "ordinary Frenchmen," as if he were a workaday pol prospecting for votes on RMC's Les Grandes Gueules.

In the event, Hollande's gueule was no more grande than usual. If "whiny confidence" isn't a contradiction in terms, it's an apt description of Hollande's manner. When asked if he had chosen "the right path" for France, he said that we'd know "at the end," that a path is "where it leads, and I'm doing everything to make sure that France is stronger and more just at the end of my quinquennat." Was it a "left path?" "It's a path that will see to it that we can make our economy as strong as possible without undermining our republican values or our social model." A veritable tag team of interviewers tried to pummel him into saying something more solid, or merely more thoughtful, than this, but you can't push Hollande off his talking points any more than you can push on a string, or build on a foundation of Flanby (TM) (the famous caramel custard, you will recall, to which Hollande was compared during the campaign).

Hollande did announce that he will see Merkel this Sunday to discuss "the future of Europe." He may have thought this would enhance his stature, but it's more likely to reinforce his image as the chancellor's lapdog. He also said he had learned that Putin did not want to annex East Ukraine. How did he know? "Putin told me."

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