Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What Was Fillon Thinking?

There is a real puzzle about the disintegration of François Fillon. Employing the wife and kids, OK, maybe he did make a "mistake," as he says. Maybe he was slow to catch on to changing mores, as he says. But the suits? Taking money from a guy like Robert Bourgi in 2016, as he was contemplating a presidential run. Setting up his consulting firm, 2F (clever, that!) just before the law requiring disclosure of same? Taking on clients like Ladreit de Lacharrière, who was already involved in the dubious payment to Penelope by La Revue des Deux Mondes? And then this guy, Fouad Makhzoumi? The king of the fiber optic pipeline, who wanted Fillon to use his good offices with Putin? It's too much.

All this happened relatively recently, after Fillon had decided to run for president, in contrast to the nepotism. It's as if he decided that you can't become president without dirtying your hands, so might as well plunge in up to the elbows. There's plenty of precedent for this among his political mentors and peers: Balladur, Chirac, Sarkozy. This is the way it's done on the right. You raise money by going where the money is, inside France and outside.

By contrast, the Le Roux affair is small potatoes. And the Fillon affair might be explicable in terms of the traditions of the right if he hadn't decided to run as Mr. Clean. That's the baffling part. It's almost as though he was overcompensating for his sins, as if he were driven by guilt to stage his innocence.

As Donald Trump would say, Sad!


bernard said...

Economists always have something to say about these things. I will thus urge you to re-read Houthakker (1957) or Duesenberry (1949) or quite a few others on the ratchet effect for personal consumption. And then I guess psychologists have things to say about compulsive behaviour etc...In short, this is business as usual as far as human behaviour goes.

Ronald Tiersky said...

There's a foolish sense of impunity about Fillon's corruption as well as compulsive behavior. Did he think he could get away with it? Or did he secretly want to be caught out? Maybe both. In any case, God bless the Canard enchaine -

FrédéricLN said...

And then, saying oh, it was a mistake, I sent them back. Used suits.

The degree of fake in our politics is currently reaching all-times highs.

Alexandra Marshall said...

"I sent back bespoke suits." Do I need to mention that is literally impossible? I mean, he can send them back technically I suppose but since they were cut to fit him and only him they will simply go into the trash... Or to outfit his waxwork at Mme Tussaud's new museum for disgraced politicians. Keep digging, François.

Art Goldhammer said...

Alexandra, I love the idea of Fillon's suits hanging on wax dummies. Has anyone verified that he is now wearing off-the-rack rags? Perhaps he's bought himself a Donald Trump (TM) outfit.

Anonymous said...

Big news this morning is that Fillon went off the deep end, claiming a 'black cabinet ' follows his every move and is trying to capture democracy, badmouthing him for peccadilloes to prevent people from voting for the right.
No idea how it'll go with the rank-and-file. It sounds so utterly nuts to me that I can't evaluate the idea's appeal to his base.

Bernard said...

good one.

Lapinot said...

I had to read the article on Le Monde a few times before I was was sure I was understanding it correctly with my bad French. It seems to be going over fairly well with readers of Le Figaro, though.

Anonymous said...

At lunch people, openly guffawing, said 'he's threatening to commit suicide now!"
Nor sure why exactly, I watched a little and I didn't hear that.
And also brought up a writer came and told him "we're millions feeling like I do, that I'd you or le pen we don't know who to vote for."
I had to check online (for easier French than le monde, I recommend 'aujourdhui enjoy france/parisien") but it all was in arrets sur images.

Art Goldhammer said...

myos, The allusion was to a clash between Fillon and writer Christine Angot on L'Emission politique. Fillon had mentioned the distress of Pierre Bérégovoy when he was charged with improper conduct, and Angot took this as a threat by Fillon to commit suicide, as Bérégovoy did, if the "calumny" didn't stop. The confrontation was quite vehement.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.
I was pretty sure I hadn't heard the words 'Se suicider' :)
What an odd thing to say.
I had a distinct impression Fillon was enjoying his traditional 'pan concert' today. Like 'look at me, the martyr '.
The Angot / Fillon face off is making the rounds. Reactions are ..not unanimous. :)

MCG said...

The people around politicians tell them how terrific they are, and those people can be trusted to keep secrets, but only for a while. But the politicians think discretion is forever. Look at former New York State governor Eliot Spitzer. Look at former President Bill Clinton. Lots of people knew what was going on. The politician thought the news would never get out. It always does.