Headline: The Sun King: Macron burnishes his presidential image
Sub-headline: French lap up ostentatious display of grandeur from youthful head of state
From the utterly shameless, what to call it, kowtowing,worshipful, obsequious stance of The Financial Times towards Macron, the reader just might think that they are reading an excerpt of Saint-Simon’s Memoirs. Or is that just hyperbole to match the bowing and scraping that has become the stance of this ‘newspaper’, and one of its ‘reporters’ in this instance Michael Stothard? He, at one point, offer a telling insight: ‘is so contrived as to invite mockery.’ but only for a moment.
Then there is this from Mr. Stothard: ‘But, it seems, the French public is lapping up the ostentatious display of grandeur from their 39-year-old head of state.’ The reader sees not the admiring throngs of worshipful voters, but tight close-up photos of Macron riding in a military jeep, with world leaders, and in a nuclear submarine, reeking normalien confident leadership. Mr. Stothard lapses into what can only be called parody with this: He gave Donald Trump a bone-crushing handshake in their first meeting, saying France was not there to make “small concessions”. We are not ushered, but strong armed, into the territory of the Prime Time Soap Opera featuring on-the-skids Hollywood Stars! Mr. Stothard himself enters into the dread territory of ‘is so contrived as to invite mockery.’ !
One really important fact is left out, is in fact erased from this hagiography, that vexing and potentially lethal but very inconvenient fact of that 57% Abstention rate that ‘swept’ Macron into office.
Macron takes as his model of leadership Charles de Gaulle:
Mr Macron’s official portrait, which is heavy in symbolism, contains an open copy of de Gaulle’s wartime memoirs. “Like de Gaulle, I am choosing the best of the [political] right, the best of the left and even the best of the centre,” Mr Macron said at a political rally in Paris in April.
The political parallels with Leftist turned Neo-Liberal Mitterrand as ‘titan of late-20th century France’ and Neo-Liberal Obama and Trudeau make for a more easily acceptable political symmetry, as answer of the Populists of both ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ who threaten the construct of the Post-War Liberal Order.
Even Le Monde has some harsh words for Macron as reported by Mr.Stothard :
Le Monde, the powerful French daily, last month complained that while “not a day goes by” without images of Mr Macron all over social media or on the news, they were not designed to “explain his policy” to the French people but to “sculpt his own image”.
For some enlightening background on Le Monde and its reputation as a newspaper see this essay by Perry Anderson at The London Review of Books of September 2, 2004:
Some informative excerpts:
The vitality of France’s culture under De Gaulle was not merely a matter of these eminences. Another sign of it was possession of what was then the world’s finest newspaper, Le Monde. Under the austere regime of Hubert Beuve-Méry, Paris enjoyed a daily whose international coverage, political independence and intellectual standards put it in a class by itself in the Western press of the period. The New York Times, the Times or Frankfurter Allgemeine were provincial rags by comparison.
More generally, a sense of cheapening and dumbing down, the intertwining of intellectual with financial or political corruption, has become pervasive. Press and television, long given to the incestuous practices of le renvoi d’ascenseur – is there an equivalent so expressive in any other language? – have lost earlier restraints, not only in their dealing with ideas, but with business and power. The decline of Le Monde is emblematic. Today, the paper is a travesty of the daily created by Beuve-Méry: shrill, conformist and parochial, increasingly made in the image of its website, which assails the viewer with more fatuous pop-ups and inane advertisements than an American tabloid. The disgust that many of its own readers, trapped by the absence of an alternative, feel for what it has become was revealed when a highly uneven polemic against the trio of managers who have debauched it – Alain Minc, Edwy Plenel and Jean-Marie Colombani – sold 200,000 copies, in the face of legal threats against the authors, later withdrawn to avoid further discomfiture of them in court.
La Face cachée du ‘Monde’, a doorstop of 600 pages mixing much damaging documentation with not a few inconsistencies and irrelevancies, unfolds a tale of predatory economic manoeuvres, political sycophancies and vendettas, egregious cultural back-scratching, and – last but not least – avid self-enrichment, unappetising by any standards. ‘Since Le Monde was founded,’ Beuve-Méry remarked after he retired, ‘money has been waiting below, at the foot of the stairs, to gain entry to the office of the editor. It is there, patient as always, persuaded that in the end it will have the final word.’ The media conglomerate erected by Colombani and his associates gives notice that it has taken up occupation. But, powerful a motive though greed at the top may be, the journalism they represent is too pervasive to be explained simply by this. A deeper focus can be found in Serge Halimi’s exposure of the interlocking complicities – across the spectrum – of establishment commentary on public affairs, in Les Nouveaux Chiens de garde (1997). What this sardonic study of mutual fawning and posturing among the talking heads and editorial sages of Parisian society shows is a system of connivance based at least as much on ideological as material investment in the market.
Mr. Mr.Stothard ends his essay with this :
Laurent Bouvet, a political science professor at Versailles University, says that building up the office of the presidency might not help Mr Macron push though his reformist agenda this year — but was proving popular for now.
“Macron has allowed French people to respect the presidency again,” Mr Bouvet adds.
Mr. Macron’s ‘reformist agenda’ is a euphemism for Neo-Liberalization of the whole of French political/civic life, nothing less : The Catastrophe awaits!