Tuesday, June 20, 2017

La moralisation moralisée

Richard Ferrand, secretary-general of REM and right hand of Emmanuel Macron, has been gently evicted from the government and shunted off to the National Assembly, where he is supposed to lead the REM group--unless, of course, he is indicted. Sylvie Goulard has excluded herself from the new Philippe government in order to prove her "good faith" in the affair of the MoDem parliamentary assistants--which the party leader and justice minister, François Bayrou, says isn't an affair at all, while describing Goulard's decision as "strictly personal." If there is as yet no smoking gun, there is plenty of smoke.

Bayrou, of course, was supposed to lead the effort to "moralize" government and restore public confidence--an effort he imposed on Macron as a condition of his support. Now, however, he seems to personify the problem. His reactions since the eruption of charges has been tone-deaf, not to say obtuse. He seems as clueless as Fillon.

And the atmospherics are not good for Macron and Philippe, whose flawless rollout has been compromised by the gathering clouds, may be on the verge of taking off into a maelstrom. The fresh face Macron put on government is in danger of looking a lot like the same old same old. And François Fillon must be wondering how things would have looked if the various improprieties that have lately come to light, including his own, had been revealed in a different order. A true Cleopatra's nose moment in French politics.