Adam Gopnik on the French presidential elections and the more than likely future french president François Hollande:
But it’s entirely likely that, after the second round of voting, on May 6th, the next President of France will be François Hollande, the inoffensive, myopic, weight-conscious Socialist candidate, a man so milky-mild that one has to project onto him a secret life to make him seem not just a fully credible politician but a fully credible human being. (And, indeed, Hollande’s love life is more intricate than one might expect: having fathered four children with his lover, the previous Socialist Presidential candidate, Ségolène Royal, he left her, or was left by her, for another partner, meaning that his Presidency could include a role for an ex-mistress who is also a would-be queen.)
The strength of Hollande’s candidacy speaks mainly to the weakness of Nicolas Sarkozy’s, and the pervasive sense that his free-market reformist project has failed. After the twelve dead-man’s-float years of the Chirac Presidency, it was hard not to root at least a little for Sarkozy, and, in truth, his economic record, given the circumstances, is far from the worst on the Continent, or off it, for that matter. Yet he quickly came to seem arrogant instead of energetic, and he never quite shook a reputation, earned in the first days of his Presidency, for flashiness and bling. Even his marriage to Carla Bruni, and the child they had together, left the French unmoved. People will forgive a short man with a beautiful wife if he seems sufficiently surprised; Sarkozy seemed merely showy, and his energy, over time, merely antic and self-pleasing.
I have to admit that I like Adam Gopnik a lot, but that I am increasingly irritated by what he writes about France because it is so obvious that he is too much of a romantic to understand and to accept certain realities. One only needs to read what he was writing about Sarkozy about five years ago to get the fact that Gopnik writes about France the same way BHL (Bernard Henri Lévy) writes about America that is with passion, but not much more than superficial analysis.