Saturday, November 26, 2016

Bartolone's Hail Mary

Claude Bartolone is now calling for a unified primary of the left that would include Mélenchon, Hollande, Valls, and Macron, along with the smaller fry (Montebourg, Lienemann, etc.). Thomas Piketty did the same thing last January, when it might have done some good, but to no avail. Such a primary is clearly the only chance of averting a hard-right government come next May, be it Fillon's or Le Pen's (barring a miraculous Juppé victory tomorrow). One understands Bartolone's reasons (including his pique at Hollande for unflattering comments about him in the now-notorious book that has sunk his approval rating to a stunning 4 percent). One understands his impatience to get Valls into the race before Mélenchon and Macron divide what's left of the left between them in a cage match between the Passionaria and the Nureyev of oratorical fancy-dancing. One understands his desperation.

But it must be recognized as desperation. Whatever you think of Valls, he has stuck with Hollande past the bitter end. And whatever credit you give Hollande for perseverance, you have to wonder what voices he is listening to that persuade him he still has a chance. They can't be human voices. Nobody gives him a ghost of a chance.

And why would Macron want to throw in with la Belle Alliance Populaire (gad--what a name!) when his chief claim to the presidency is that he is not one of ces Pieds nickelés? He would immediately sink himself by attaching these rusty old sea anchors to his swift (and frankly frail) bark. Why would Mélenchon, the Don Quixote of gauchisme, dampen the image he has worked so hard to create of himself as the lonely knight of doleful countenance?

And what would be the end result? A series of debates in which the candidates, unlike the yea-sayers of the right, attacked and bloodied one another without mercy for all the host of unforgivable sins of which each is guilty in the eyes of at least one of the others: neoliberalism, irrealism, fatalism, reformism, capitalist-roadism, financialism, imperialism, Hollandism, Strauss-Kahnism, Putinism, communism, social-democratism, Blairism, Third-Wayism, Thatcherism,  affairism, defeatism, etc. "Circular firing squad" would be a euphemism for this crew.

But perhaps Bartolone is right to make the suggestion in the hope that some fairy will spread her dust and transform one of this hapless lot into a contender. Miracles happen. Look at Fillon, who was given up for dead after losing the presidency of the UMP to Copé. And Donald J. Trump is president of the United States. If that could happen, who knows what will go down in France? Perhaps even the re-election of François Hollande.