Sunday, 23 November 2014

Can A Woman Scorned Bring Down a President?

Valerie Trierweiler's memoir "Thank You for the Moment" is clearly the enraged cry of a woman scorned. But, this is not simply a matter of a switch in the bedroom. Trierweiler is no empty headed arm ornament but a political woman and a commentator of some force. It should not be forgotten that Trierweiler, with her journalistic contacts, helped the goof Hollande to be elected as President of France. No woman would call Francois Hollande a seductive figure or even a political brain, but evidently he had attractions for some women even before he was elected.  One would wonder why this backroom functionary who became the Socialist Party's candidate for the Presidency after Dominic Strauss Khan's fall from grace managed to be elected as President of France. So politically inept that he did not realise that he could be elected--until after his debate with Sarkhozy, he was genuinely surprised at the result that took him into the Élysée. And it was a close run thing. But Valerie, forever behind him holding the umbrella (It rained a lot during the election and after--so much so that I Christened him 'President Noah' and her, 'The First Umbrella Carrier') was more than simply the 'First Girl Friend' to be. She had groomed him, guided him in his media appearances and helped to influence the press in his favour.
No wonder she's as mad as hell about the sneaky way he cheated on her. Apart from the joke he made of himself in his crash helmet riding pillion on a motor scooter to the rendezvous with his new mistress, the appalling revelations of his remarks concerning poor people--the 'sans dents' (without teeth) and Valerie's accusations that he instructed her doctors to keep her drugged so that she would not join the media furor following revelations of his infidelity in Closer Magazine, help to damn him in the eyes of the French public. Now she is enjoying her revenge as her best seller in France is published in English and several other languages; and as she appears on the Andrew Marr show and interviewed in the Times.
Of course, Trierweiler, aptly nicknamed the Rottweiler, is reviled, especially by French males for her revelations, the more so since sales figures released by her French publishers indicate several million euros accruing to her in royalties. Should she have remained loyally silent? She was not married to Hollande, so she attracts disrespect:considered by many (men) to be a 'put,' a prostitute. When Cecilia Sarkozy and Nicolas divorced soon after his election in 2007, her departure (for New York with her new journalist husband--exile is the most discreet solution on these occasions) was beautifully stage managed with divine photo shoots for Madame Figaro and other right wing media. Her book about her marriage to Nicolas was published five years after the divorce and failed to reveal much other than that Nicolas was difficult to live with.
Valerie, on the other hand was dumped and left to fend for herself. No discreet exile or highly paid job was arranged for her. No secret pay offs from her official Presidential lover apparently passed into her accounts. Shall we blame her therefore for gaining millions from her tell all?
Clearly the man is so stupid that he cannot even ensure the silence of his former companion. I must say that I hoped she would write her book and get something in return for her loyalty.
Do these revelations serve any useful purpose? Yes, they do. Francois Hollande who in 2012 omitted to tell the French tax authorities about his multi million-property investments in London should by now have been dismissed by the French Senate. Unless they take prompt action, he has until 2017 to continue his ruination of France. Only his recently appointed real-politician Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, has begun to save the day--in rhetoric if not in actuality.
But rumours of revolution abound in France and it seems that the reaction to the 'Sans Dents' quote is stirring deep wounds in the French soul that go back to the Revolution of the late Eighteenth Century. French commentators liken Hollande to Louis XVI, the incompetent king who with his controversial wife Marie Antoinette, was guillotined in 1793. There are many in France who fear the ancient revolutionary spirit has been re-ignited. Trierweiler is no Marie Antoinette but her revelations may be dangerous to the President and to the Republic itself. The best that can happen is that the Centre Right UMP, formerly led by Nicolas Sarkozy will find new leadership. Otherwise, Marine Le Pen and her Front National could take power in 2017 or at least dominate membership of the Assembly National. The worst alternative is that the Republic will be confronted increasingly with violent insurrections as Hollande and his government flounder in the conflict between socialist ideology and economic reality. The 'Sans Dents' may yet find a new set of teeth. Thank you, Valerie.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

French Perfectionism and Vichy White Wash about Jewish Deportations

The French are perfectionist--mainly about themselves. They carry self-criticism to extremes but anyone else attempting to criticise them will suffer from French refusal to accept that they can be perceived as imperfect. The most popular TV programmes are those depicting the Resistance in their heroic fight against the Nazis, but anything as shameful as French collaboration with the Nazis or as ugly as anti Semitism is unpopular. The popularity of a new book by Eric Zemmour is due to its claims that deportation of Jews by the Vichy regime is not so nasty as history would have us believe.
The French endured much in WW2 and Resistance fighters were not the only heroes: private citizens sheltered Jewish families. De Gaulle was also a hero. But his is the stern mask that fits over the face of an earlier history, of those who refused to understand and listen to his warnings so that when war came, France was unprepared. As was England, thanks to Chamberlain's pacifist policies and his failure to understand Hitler's intentions.
When Germany invaded France, Antoine St Exupery, another hero of French legend, then flying with fighter squadrons against German air attacks, wrote, "We were throwing a glass of water on a forest fire." France had no chance. De Gaulle fled. The failure to arm was not only that of France: only the English Channel helped Britain buy time.
In February 2004, sixtieth year since the Allied invasion, I stayed in a friend's Normandy farmhouse and walked among tiny hamlets scattered throughout nearby farmland. Each had its tragic war memorial where long lists of WW1 casualties told of the loss of young manhood in the trenches. When WW2 threatened, there had to be avoidance of repetition. The French, with Germans already rolling their tanks towards Paris, bought time by compromise. There would not be war on French soil.
The Vichy regime was a typically French compromise. To avoid war, the destruction of historic Paris, the loss of young manhood, surrender was given an acceptable face. The Vichy Regime preserved the illusion that there was a France still in control of its own destiny. That suited the German occupiers perfectly.
Atrocities could be perpetrated under the guise of being lawful enactments by French government. Officials in French uniforms knocked on doors of Jewish houses, or did Nazi dirty work of loading Jews into trains, and German perfectionism, an even more potent weapon than that of French perfectionism, preserved the Nazi self-image of a purifying and perfecting force.
Now that history, and historic guilt, are being revised by Zemmour, in a climate where anti-Semitism is rife again and openly so at bourgeois dinner parties, that dirty work is presented as not being so dirty, nor so French. And it suits French perfectionist mentality. It is a strain that runs through French society, that denial of anything that besmirches the notion of French civilization. Elegant clothes, exquisite food, beautiful architecture, gracious manners, mistresses hidden under the correct choreography of la famille, that is part of French civilization, and it is indeed beautiful. But as Carl Jung described in his works on the human psyche, the more one pretends that all is perfect, the more the dark forces of the psyche accumulate below ground and the more likely they are to burst forth in violent expression of hideous barbarity.
A French best seller that white washes the Vichy regime is not only a distortion of history but a warning of historical repetition. The Thirties brought just such a violent expression of repressed dark forces of the Collective Unconscious, and conditions are building to be just right for a repetition. While liberal organs such as Le Monde find his views unacceptable, Eric Zemour's denials of French anti-Semitic crimes and their enthusiastic embrace by the French public may be the warning of danger around the corner.