Friday, March 18, 2016

Dishonorable Discharge

When politics is drained of substance and reduced to symbolism, even the greatest blunders can be quietly buried. That is what the Senate did yesterday with la déchéance de nationalité, Hollande's folly. By approving a different text from the National Assembly--authorizing stripping nationality only from binationals rather than any French citizen convicted of terrorism--the Senate ensured that neither provision will become part of the Constitution. And that is that.

Since la déchéance would have been an ineffective measure in any case, no one cares. One might see this dénouement as a face-saving way out for Hollande and Valls, except that the damage has already been done. They have shown their readiness to jettison principle and divide the Socialist Party at its very core. To the majority of French citizens who (wrongly, in my estimation) favored a strong déchéance clause, they showed that they were powerless to get it done even after reneging on their previously professed values. They may have saved face, but only after castrating themselves. A monumental error, from which I doubt Hollande will recover.