Friday, March 17, 2017

Macron as Debater

I've been worrying here and elsewhere about how Macron will perform in head-to-head debate with Marine Le Pen. Here's a sample of his style, albeit on a panel where everyone is more or less in agreement on the EU, which will certainly be a major bone of contention between EM and MLP:

Bottom line: he's good, sometimes too technical, but capable of pith, charm, and wit.


bert said...

The lisp is a problem though, isn't it?

Churchill had a bit of a lisp, particularly after the second bottle.
But with Macron there's something pinched and precious about it. Or as Philippot would tell you with an oily wink, something limp-wristed. He's the bon eleve, sat in the front row, clean and biddable. He has an apple for the teacher, and you just know that he's done all his homework.

Forgive my substance-free comment.
But we've known since Nixon-Kennedy that superficial, subrational stuff counts for a hell of a lot with TV debates.

Anonymous said...

Macron lisps, zézaye? Barely audible to my ear. Notice the gap between his two front teeth. Clean and biddable?

bert said...

Í'm not a native speaker, so I'm happy to take guidance here. I first heard Macron speak when he was in government and he came on the BBC - it's very noticeable in English (see for example his appel to American scientists recently).

To me it's clearly there in French too.
I had a quick look back at Art's video for a sanity check.
Around 8 minutes, ”ethayer de comprendre” ... ”tha peut avoir un effet domino” ... ”déthennie perdue” ... etc ...

It's not like it's some kind of disfiguring speech impediment.

I feel slightly like I'm trying to nail down something intangible and possibly subjective. Same thing with the clean and biddable comment. If I had to sum up my reservations in one word I might end up choosing 'prissy'.

Lapinot said...

Spiegel Online has just put up a good interview with him in English:

Anonymous said...

Collins Robert translates "prissy" by efféminé or pointilleux (fussy)----as if precision in speaking were not altogether manly. LOL

Anglo-Saxons have always been confused. The cliché of the effeminate Frenchman is quite ancient (see Shakespeare). There is nothing effeminate about Macron imo, and I don't find that he lisps, but I can see how he might come across as pointilleux.

Miraz Hossain said...

Aujourd’hui, et pour la première fois dans une élection démocratique, le peuple a l’opportunité de dire aux politiques :

Pour les élections présidentielles, les Français ont donc deux choix.

Pas celui d’ entre bonnet blanc et blanc bonnet, mais un vrai choix de société.
Celui de s’assoir sur leurs mains à contempler leur nombril avec la foi du charbonnier que les politiques délivreront leurs promesses de changements.
Ou celui de prendre leur destin en main, en votant pour un changement démocratique qu’eux seuls sont en mesure de délivrer.


bert said...

So now I need to make clear I have no patience whatsoever for the gay thing. The gay thing is inescapably part of the all-purpose 360-degree smear from Philippot (himself outed), mentioned in Art's previous post.

It's not what you're getting from me.

Alexandra Marshall said...

Thank you for clarifying, Bert, as lisping and precision are normally pretty ridiculous dog whistles.

bert said...

To which I think he's vulnerable.
The commenter with no name brings up manliness. It's long been a staple of right wing attacks. You'll know, Alexandra, the treatment given to Carter, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry. Prissiness was exactly the problem for Gore, and despite both his many fine qualities and the worthlessness of his opponent, it was use successfully to push down his support. Perhaps in France there is a higher-minded, less Anglo-Saxon approach. But I don't think Jospin was helped by that kind of thinking - and who benefitted?

My first post on this thread was clear, but I should maybe repeat. This is impressionistic thinking. That's at least half the territory of TV debates.

Domofdoom said...

It's not really about whether Macris a good debater in polite and educated company. Le Pen, who is herself a good debater, is going to try to cast him as out of touch with the masses, as the man of Brussels and of international capital. Can he side step that trap and connect with unducated, lower income voters? The other issue I can see is that he talks well but is generally light on the substance. His program tends to be either very detailed and very close to Brussels policy prescriptions or very vague, almost evangelical in its invocation of lofty principles such restoring risk taking in French society. Again not really appealing to those who feel economically and politically marginalized. Trump won by convncing the marginalized that he was their champion, could Le Pen pull out a similar trick?

Alexandra Marshall said...

Bert, yes to everything you've said. Unfortunately this stuff still matters. Fortunately there's a slightly wider margin in France than the US, where even having a degree from a fancy school is enough to taint you with the pink brush unless you wear cowboy boots and drop your g's. Our ridiculous taste for political theater above all else got us to Trump, who is an avatar more than a functional human. Let's hope France goes the other way this time. If Macron wins, it'll be a victory for the maybe-non-gays, who could use one as much as the actual ones, apparently.

Anonymous said...

Here (deindustrialized / rural mix, think France 's Ohio), Macron is seen as candidat de Paris or Des riches but people on the left are willing to vote for him as a 'rempart ' against le Pen since no one believes Hamon will win.
That's why I went to a pro Hamon meeting, because honestly I like him. I expected there'd be four party faithful and I was supposed to see there weren't enough chairs in the room (granted, small, but I literally expected 4 people so seeing 30 filling a room clearly thought to need only about 15 by the optimistic organizers surprised me.)
There's a resignation: people will vote for Macron in the first round, not because they like him, but because they feel they don't have a choice. For this reason, their vote hasn't solidified. They'll decide at the very end. The feeling was there if macron 'passes ', he'll 'screw us over again'(as some clearly consider him responsible for the ElKhomri law.)
On the right I am surprised at Fillon 's resilience because people on the right are pretty disgusted. The most socially conservative (usually older) migrated to MLP and many younger people migrated to Macron. I don't get Home his numbers remain stable. Perhaps polls haven't registered the exodus or perhaps it's a purely southwestern phenomenon.
(Note : I don't have friend or acquaintances among the 'maitres Des chateaux ' and 'maitres Des chais' who still expected their employees to lower their eyes when they were talked to, 25 years ago. Many 40 year olds with memories of parents humiliated by a 'maitre' testify to the tradition. I've been told that the 'maitres' love Fillonand could not care less that he's been indicted as he's about to bring back the 'normal'social order where everyone has a place.)
Very clearly MLP now has strongholds among the recently laid off factory workers and especially in the rural areas.
I'm guessing my area isn't totally representative but Macron-as-gay doesn't have as much traction as Macron-as-rich.

bert said...

The way it works in the States baffles everyone, Alexandra.
You're referring perhaps to the Bush people attacking Kerry for going to Yale. When Bush not only went to Yale but to Harvard Business School too, and not because he deserved to but because of who his daddy was ...
That was the year they handed out purple Band Aids at the Republican convention, if I remember right.

Anonymous said...

Hate auto-correct
" I was *surprised to see there weren't enough chairs"

BTW I'm sure there are people who love Macron here and I'm trying to find them.
They hand out flyers at the Sunday market but don't seem to have a 'base' in town. PS and ump do, easily found. La france insoumise plasters everything available. And the FN favors major intersections with giant posters of MLP and smaller stickers on the back of direction signs that read stuff like 'francais d'abord' or even 'La France aux Francais'.

Alexandra Marshall said...

Myos, I actually went and handed out Macron tracts one day at my local market in the 20th arr out of curiosity and anti-Marine sentiment, and I can assure you, he has a base here among the moderately well off bobos. I do not love any politician, including Macron. But I feel very strongly about French political corruption, and like his reforming stance. I don't understand why there are 10,000 dysfunctional social security caisses in France and believe they need to be rationalized and universalized. I would also like one day to touch the URSSAF droits I pay into at full price but cannot currently access because I'm profession libérale. I like the fact that Macron, like Hamon, is not a racist. So I would say I can bundle together some very un-sweeping, technocratic reform programs proposed by Macron into something like support for him. HIs pro-EU stance is of course important though I would like to see stronger calls for deeper reform there to. To me, among the choices we have now, he is the only acceptable one. That does not add up to anything like love, but I'm welcome to play the role of someone pro-Macron here. What would you like to know?

Alexandra Marshall said...

Bert, yes I am referring to cowboy Bush's ridiculous playacting and Clinton, the Rhodes Scholar, going full Arkansas bumpkin in his cultural signaling. Come to think of it, LBJ was one of the few US presidents without an elite education. Obama was the first modern day one who was allowed to be an intellectual, perhaps because it appeared to semi-racist Americans like a civilizing influence? That's a cynical projection but I do believe a lot of Americans needed his impeccable institutional credentials (not just a product of an Ivy education but a professor at Columbia, etc) to find him credible.

The norm, however, is down-home white folksiness, usually despite the actual background. Americans are so narcissistic we literally have to imagine the president as being one of us. The French as I've known them have usually wanted not one of us, but someone better. (I can't tell you how many times people talk about where a candidate went to and how they finished school, something an American politician would guard like a dirty secret.) But that appears to be changing.

Etienne said...

Un meilleur exemple, avec une véritable animosité entre participants, le débat F. Philippot/E. Macron :

Bon weekend !

bert said...

And yet he had to be careful. When the cops gave Henry Louis Gates a hard time for owning property while black, and Obama spoke up, there was an early freakout. The ”cares about people like me” numbers took a dive in the wrong direction.

Anonymous said...

What do you see representing the left in his platform? Also, I don't understand what he wants for the schools.

Alexandra Marshall said...

Myos, were you asking that of me, the sure-why-not-I'll-play-pro-Macron person here? On schools, decentralization, hiring more teachers, more extra-curricular help for troubled students, a reverse on the current model that puts the least qualified and lowest paid teachers in the most troubled neighborhoods: these are four things I agree with. I expect he could actually achieve only the last, and then only maybe. (Tip: will answer most any other position questions you could pose better than I can. Just go there.)

What seems left about his program? Not much outside of his more multicultural take on laicité (which I think you can imagine I completely agree with). Though honestly, what are you looking for in 2017 to count for "left ideas"? Universal income and fewer working hours? These things are not looking like winners in France today. A proper solution for permanent unemployment? Also not so much the province of either side today. I'm not saying there are no left ideas worth pursuing, far from it, but I'm not sure what counts as a winning big left idea in 2017 France.

And not to parrot Macron's line, because "neither left nor right," to me, is a rhetorical nothing-burger, but I do agree that what used to count as left and right is no longer everywhere operational. (I mean, just look at my country, where the GOP used to be Russia hawks.) The other day I was interviewing the son of a fairly well known billionaire who called Macron a lefty. I didn't ask him to expound because we were there to talk about his wife, not his politics. But inside I thought to myself, your sense of the left-right divide, sir, is not mine. I think that line has shifted to become far less meaningful today. For obvious reasons Marx had nothing to say about digital disruption...