Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Macron Makes His Move

Today's the day, apparently. If you didn't know this was coming, you haven't been paying attention. Macron's been en marche since before he landed in the limelight. Ambition is his middle name. Why this young man, of all the aspiring talents, is the one to have captured the public imagination is a bit puzzling. He stands for everything the populist groundswell of the moment is supposed to have been stirred up by. He's made his share of gaffes. He's been on both sides of the political divide, having served on the Attali Commission under Sarkozy and in the Valls government under Hollande. He was a banker--not exactly a guarantee of popularity--and had made a bundle by the time he was 35. He lacks the popular touch. And yet there he is, riding high in the polls--for the moment.

Whether the moment lasts once he is definitively in the ring and no longer merely un jeune aspirant remains to be seen. He may well go pschittt. I half expect him to. But thus far he has led a charmed life, and miracles do happen in politics. Especially when there's money behind them, and Macron has been lining up support in that department for a while now.

I'd love to know what makes him tick, but I have to say that right now I'm mystified. The "brilliance" vaunted by the press seems to lie mostly in a gift for repeating the conventional wisdom with a certain boyish ingenuousness, as if he weren't quite aware that it was the conventional wisdom. He has the perfidious streak that successful French politicians often exhibit, the gift for emitting petites phrases guaranteed to win media coverage, as when he let drop last week that "To be honest, I'm not a socialist." It naturally made all the JT 20H, as he knew it would. It was a harbinger of today's announcement.

But really, anyone who wants to be president needs more. Show us what you got, Macron.

As for the man who is president: le pauvre François, 3 ex-ministers running to unseat him, his Republican rivals capturing the front pages and the talk shows, and that famous unemployment curve finally beginning to turn just as the media focus all their attention on the substantial peloton of people out for his skin. And meanwhile, Marine Le Pen has been in a more or less silent sulk since the regional elections. Expect her to start turning up the heat come la rentrée. Hollande is the piñata for all these ambitions. Expect the floor of the arena to be littered with his stuffing for the next six months.