Au revoir, Monsieur Nul, sans remerciements pour le poisson

Back when he was First Secretary of he Socialist Party, when his then-wife Segolène Royal was a presidential candidate, Hollande came across as a thoughtful if uninspiring technocrat who had a pretty good grasp of the divide in French society and some ideas about how to address the shortcomings of the Chirac years. Fast forward to the 2012 election, and all of a sudden he’s a candidate, he’s shed his wife (or she him, who cares), he’s found a voice and mouths all the right positions to get him just barely elected over Sarkozy, a plaything of the monied gentry whose hubris and tendency to lecture everyone else on how right he is about anything and everything helped mightily in getting him unelected. Hollande wasted little time in setting out on a course to alienate pretty much everyone, abandoning the workers at Florange, half-heartedly moving to stand down part of the French nuclear electricity generation infrastructure, instituting road taxes that amounted to an enormous burden on independent drivers and fleet operators with no counterbalance, and the quick embrace of the idea of making French industry more competitive, the dog-whistle word that signals that working folks are gonna get whacked again. Finance, the enemy of his campaign, regained status as his friend, and he ended his reign with unrest in the overseas départements of the Caribbean and the revision of the work laws that ensured that the little people would pay once again for flexibility and competition. And so he shuffles off to a degree of opprobrium and oblivion, likely to be noted as a non-leader, a man who accomplished almost nothing, and who was unable to pass along a legacy to a true successor, once the other Emmanuel (Valls) lost in the primary, and Hollande himself couldn’t bring himself to embrace the chosen candidate of his party, Hamon. So good luck to the French who will likely continue to struggle with trying to improve their lives without making the significant changes needed to build a more vibrant and inclusive society. Macron will be more of an obstacle than an expediter.

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