Everything comes to him who waits. Jean-Luc Mélenchon has not exactly been waiting patiently, but he has persevered in his mode à la Passionaria for quite some time now, and he has finally had his breakthrough. Oddly for this contemner of the media, his moment came thanks to his gift for the televised debate. He roughed up Marine Le Pen on the question of crèches, entangling her in a contradiction between her defense à outrance of laïcité as the supreme republican (and anti-Muslim) value and her equally tenacious defense of France's Christian roots. This has apparently seduced a part of le peuple de gauche away from Hamon's robot tax and universal basic income and 32-hour week. Nothing mobilizes the left like a good religious war, or war on religion, compared to which all this folderol about an end to work seems a trifle unreal.
Of course, extirpating baby Jesus from his manger in the mairie is not going to put steelworkers back to work at Florange, but an 11-way debate is not likely to turn into a seminar in economics. It's more like a joust in a bumper car concession at the amusement park, and Mélenchon's thrust visibly unseated Le Pen and left him master of the stage, free to zip about in his bumper car smacking up against what Donald Trump might call his "low-energy" rivals. Hamon seems to have been the principle victim, as the polls show Mélenchon jumping up toward Fillon territory and Hamon slipping another notch or two toward oblivion.
Although JLM remains some distance from his dreamed-of match-up with MLP in the final, he just might pull off the exploit of surpassing Fillon and relegating both mainstream parties to the rear of le peloton. Et alors? as Fillon might say. But while Mélenchon nurses his dream, I briefly envision the nightmare of a Mélenchon-Le Pen face-off and say, By God, could France possibly come to this? I think not. Meanwhile, Macron revealed the names of some of En Marche!'s candidates for the legislatives, including Jean-Michel Fauvergue, the supercop former boss of the RAID, which made the assault on Coulibaly holed up in the Hyper Cacher. This very young candidate certainly has a way of enticing older, more seasoned men into his orbit from all walks of life, from high finance to high police. Another kind of talent, less visible on TV than Mélenchon's but essential if Macron wishes to celebrate his 40th birthday in the Elysée.