Friday, November 3, 2017

Les déçus du hollandisme

After six months of unemployment preceded by five years of anticipation, the veterans of what RTL's Les Grandes Gueules used to mock as "le pays de Hollande" are publishing their memoirs. Two more are due to appear today. I think I shall spare myself the task of reading them. I'm halfway through Cambadélis's memoir, having already, even before the final debacle, read Aquilino Morelle's and of course the Confessions of the man himself to Davet and Lhomme. One's appetite for misery is not unlimited.

There are recurrent themes, of course. The odd thing is the president's almost pathological passivity. Cambadélis puts it down to a lack of preparation: Hollande had expected to be DSK's prime minister rather than president and had not theorized his presidency. This is a weak defense. What did he expect to be doing as prime minister. There is of course betrayal: both Morelle and Cambadélis stress the debacle of Florange, but from opposite sides: Morelle believes that Hollande knifed Montebourg in the back, Cambadélis believes the opposite. Both are correct, but this serves only to highlight Hollande's irresolution, on which everyone agrees. He was the decider who refused to decide: if gouverner, c'est choisir, Hollande never governed.

Cambadélis, falling back on the alibi of all failed politicians, blames the media. Gantzer and Feltesse invoke the affairs, especially Cahuzac and Closer, and Camba could not agree more. Then there was Leonarda, the Roma adolescent who dissed the president on national TV. And there was La Trierweiler, whom Camba evidently despises, but he can't refrain from revealing his contempt for the henpecked president-elect who allowed his mistress to oblige him to overcome his natural reserve by ordering him to bestow an election-night kiss on national television.

In the end, all agree that the presidency, the culmination of Hollande's life in politics, served only to reveal his unfitness for the job. It could have gone differently, all these commentators suggest, if only Hollande had been a different person. Cambadélis's resentment of Macron is evident, but at bottom his book is a resounding brief in favor of Macronism: the French people will put up with anything in their president except a void. Contradictions are tolerable; mollesse is not.