Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Macron Stars on Capitol Hill

Since returning to the US in 2000, I've seen a few presentations to a joint session of the US Congress, but none have elicited anything near the enthusiasm that was seen this morning as the youn est president of France put US lawmakers in his pocket even though there must have been a few times when he wished he had practiced his English delivery more.

I'm sure most of those present had not the slightest idea that what they were witnessing was a pure product of the French educational system, combined with a no less pure example of what training in governance can do.  Macron studied philosophy at  completed a Master’s of Public Affairs at Sciences Po, and graduated from the École nationale d'administration (ÉNA) in 2004. He worked at the Inspectorate General of Finances, before becoming an investment banker at Rothschild & Cie Banque.
It's hard to imagine a more perfect training program for the President of a major country in the 21st century: from Voltaire's worldview to the latest electronic tools for financial analysis, his 'skill-set' would be difficult to match anywhere in the world.  Nor did these prevent Macron from putting to superb use the basics of transactional psychology, taming a man who was freaking out the entire world.  

Most significantly in today's world, thisi pure product of French culture is an ardent internationalilst, something that decisively breaks with France's most hallowed tradition known as 'la grandeur francaise' (think Louis XIV updated by Charles de Gaulle).  At the end of the First World War, France lost key Eastern provinces to Germany.  After the Second World War France lost her colonies that had vied with the Comonwealth geographically.  General de Gaulle brought back a moment of 'gloire' by taking France out of the joint NATO command to highlight France's nuclear capability, but his tour de force, putting an end to Algeria's colonial status by ending a protracted war, was soon overshadowed by the student revolt of May 1968, and France has not been the same ever since.

Coinciding with the Communist Party's loss of relevant and the rise of the far-right National Front, for decades, France has been dissatisfied, which terrorist attacks partly attributable to its large Muslim population (10%) have done nothing to assuage.

Emanuel Macron's Party La France en Marche did not win last year's presidential election by a wide margin: had his major opponents not been the National Front and a far-left party, and had the ore experienced centre right candidate not been effectively disqualified by relevations that he had used government funds to pay his wife as an assistant, Macron might still be waiting in the wings to play Jupiter.  Since being elected, his 65% popularity rating has fallen to about 40%, comparable to Trump's.
It is safe to say that his official performace as Trump Whisperer will see that percentage rise: it has been a very long time since the French public has known the sweet taste of international success.

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