As sure as God(or someone just like him/her) made little green Apples, from time to time under the political big top a star attraction tumbles from the tightrope. The high wire flyer’s demise creating an opportunity for those anxious to ascend to the same lofty heights.(But hopefully avoding the same fate.)The unexpected and supersonic descent of Dominique Strauss–Kahn(DSK)from the French political high wire has done exactly that.
Obviously, all the contenders will profit to some extent. But who, particularly will benefit? Ah, yes, dear reader, that is the question. Which, being a political one has no definitive answer. So it is that we dive joyfully headlong(and isn’t that the best way?)into the mists of speculation.
Our foray into the fog of uncertainty begans with the French Socialist party. The “P.S.”. Now that DKS’s chances of becoming the next French president are as extinct as the Brontosaurus, the heir apparent would appear to be Martine Aubry. The current “Premiere Secretaire.”
Next on the ladder of political possibility are a former golden couple who did not turn to brass – but when directly to lead. Francois Holland and Segolene Royal.They, like most of us, started young. And idealistic. They ran for and won political office. They married. Had kids. Advanced their careers. And finally were poised to capture the Elysée Palace. With Segolene leading the charge. Alors – for the first time in French politics a viable Female candidate for the presidency.
And so it was that the golden couple, in the best JFK and Jackie tradition, criss-crossed froggie-land pressing all available voting flesh. Main streeting. Town hall meetings. Q and A-ing up the yin yang. Radio. T.V. Alas, as you well remember, to no avail. Although Segolene made a courageous effort tilting at Sarko’s windmill, ultimately she suffered the same fate as the heroic Don Q.
But it’s the backstory here that’s most illustrative. During their entire campaign, the golden couple had seperated and were plannning to(and as soon as the election was over did)divorce.Politics as usual, bien sur.
Their phony “united front” recalled for me Warren beatty’s movie “Bullworth” , where his character, a lack-lustre Governor and his “loving” wife, only come together for the press.To Segolene’s credit, she did not, like Beatty’s Bullworth, respond to questions with:”(Name of questioner)we stand on the threshold of a new millinieum…..”
Just where the P.S. stands, and who stands for it – is a floating decimel point. As the parties constant internal squabbles completly rend “united” from it’s vocabularly. Leaving “le grand public” understandably dazed and confused.
That confusion is some serious catnip for the “dark horse” in this race. That dark horse(more accurately “blonde horse”,) is Marine Le Pen. Leader of the Front National party, and daughter of it’s founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Like it’s English counterpart, the FN is the “if they’re black – send ’em back” party.” Blaming all the countries woes – especially the economic ones – on “persons of color” and immigrants.
While not as strident and obvious as it’s U.K. namesake, team Le Pen’s”White(and French!) is right” message is unmistakeable. The Front National’s stronghold is in and around the cities of Orange and Carpentras in the South. (The South 50km north of Avignon. Not the Cote d’Aur South.)
Only once, when Papa Jean-Marie was in a second ballot run-off with Jacques Chirac, has the party ever truly “arrived” on the National scene. (Hey – it even made the front page in San Francisco!) The prospect of Jean-Marie on the throne naturally scared the ka-ka out of every anti-FNL-er, thus assuring Monsieur Chirac of Victory.
Since then, it’s been pretty much downhill for “team Le Pen.” Trouble paying the office rent. Massive staff reduction. Rumblings of neo-nazi sympathies. And the lingering legacy of torture allegations against Jean-Marie from his Foreign Legion days in Algeria.
While not new, the torture tales have been consistent and credible enough to generate several documentaries. In one of which Jean Marie, taking his cue perhaps from master wordsmith “Slick Willy” ( Bill Clinton), redefines “torture.”
However all of this will cast no negative shadow on the FN’s current campaign. Here’s why: 1. Jean-Marie has (superfically) handed the reins to Marine. 2. If you’re pro FNL – Jean-Marie’s not guilty. 3. Anti-FLN? – you’re not part of the equation.
But unless Sarko and whoever the P.S. finally decide is their hero, snort coke on hidden Video and/or commit multiple murders, Marine Le Pen has no chance of becoming France’s first Woman President. What she does have a chance to do, is be “the spoiler.” Just as Daddy did with Chirac.
However, unlike Papa in 2007, Marine stands to benefit from two, count ’em TWO camps of discontent: The anti-Sarko vote. And the anti-P.S. vote. While this won’t make her a King-maker(or Queen-maker should the other Martine get lucky) it will increase the Parties base. Almost certainly in other traditionally non-FN regions. Assuming, of course, she eschews snorting coke on hidden video, multiple murders, or other juicy tabloid scandal fodder.
Getting a feel for the players?
THROW ME A BONE HERE, PEOPLE!
What are ya thinkin’?