20 January 2018

The Guardian: “Orbiting Jupiter: my week with Emmanuel Macron”

Watching him, I was reminded of the opening credits of the TV series The Young Pope, in which Jude Law, dressed in an immaculate cassock, advances across the screen as if on a cloud, in slow motion, weightless, and at one point turns and winks at the camera. Macron winks often. He did it to me. In any event, no matter what you think of him, whether you see his rise as a political miracle or a mirage destined to fade away, everyone agrees: he could seduce a chair. The professional commentators who started to drop him after just a few months of his presidency can keep calling him a powdered marquis, a megalomaniac with royal pretensions, a rich man’s president or a communicator without a cause, but he couldn’t care less. The people, by contrast, with whom he is directly, physically in contact, are his bread and butter. Anyone who’s had their hand shaken by Macron is lost to the opposition: they’re destined to vote Macron and to convert to Macronism. But you can’t shake hands with everyone in the country. And anyway, just what is Macronism?

Emmanuel Carrère

Quite the pompous title for this piece on France’s recently-elected President, Emmanuel Macron. I find it a little disturbing how self-confident he sounds in this article; I think he will either transform the world – or France at least – or (more likely) fail miserably, as others have before him. The contrast with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is particularly striking; one has to wonder how will they find a common path forward leading the European Union in these turbulent times.

Emmanuel Macron

During the campaign, Macron changed. At Orléans, on a day of fervent tribute to Joan of Arc, he all but explicitly compared himself with the Maid of Orléans: heralding from a distant village, alone, unknown to all, she hears voices that command her to save France – and what’s more, she does.

Just after he was elected, François Hollande said he would be a “normal” president. France, ungrateful, wasted no time in finding that “normal” wasn’t a quality they wanted in a leader. Macron, who saw his predecessor get bogged down and systematically takes the opposite stance, announces that he’ll be a “Jupiterian” president.

In the same way, in Macron’s entourage there’s no longer any talk of “reforming” the country, but straight up “transforming” it. That, incidentally, was one of the first things he said to me: “If I don’t radically transform France, it’ll be worse than if I did nothing at all.”

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