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!