For me, the reason for the failure of Hollande's presidency stands most clearly revealed on p. 112, where our two chroniclers record the president's joy as he pores over the organigramme of the new government to be put in place after a remaniement:
Il faut entendre le chef de l'État nous expliquer, la mine gourmande, l'oeil scintillant, comment il a composé lui-même, sur un bout de papier, en mars 2014, le gouvernement Valls I, dans le secret de son bureau. ... Dix-huit noms à trouver ... et deux schémas différents, selon que les écologistes acceptent de cohabiter avec Manuel Valls ou non.
Pas de doute, c'est pour ces instants-là qu'il a voulu faire de la politique. Et devenir président de la République, le décideur ultime, celui qui tire les ficelles.There you have it. This is why François Hollande went into politics, why he coveted the role of "decider": to apportion "power" among the various factions of a fractious coalition, to dribble out risible bits of influence to the ecologists if they throw in their lot with Valls or to withhold those same bits if they don't, to offer them instead to some other aspirant whose greatest desire in life is to hold un maroquin and be driven about Paris in an official car with a motorcycle escort.
What might such ministers want to accomplish? What ultimate goal might such a president want to achieve with such a team? The subject does not come up, except as it might on the 8 o'clock news, as a criterion to be met in order to renew the lease on the office for another five years. If "the famous unemployment curve" should be inverted, it is not because the president burns to reduce the suffering of the unemployed but because he has made this the condition of his re-election bid.
Perhaps François Hollande is a better man than he appears in this book, but then he is a fool to have sat for such a portrait at the hands of such paltry painters.