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Once More into the Breach

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Share the post "Once More into the Breach" I got it wrong yesterday. I assumed that Macron’s refusal of Collomb’s resignation was meant to humiliate Collomb. It was, but I failed to reckon with Collomb’s orneriness. He resubmitted his resignation and did it in plain public view, in the pages of Le Figaro. It was a rerun of the Hulot spectacular public resignation, and the humiliated party turned out to be Macron. He may not recover from this blow to his aura. Il n’ y a que le ridicule qui tue, and in this sequence Macron has looked nothing if not ridiculous, first insisting that a minister who manifestly no longer wished to be one remain at his post, then by surrendering abjectly at the first (or was it the tenth?) whiff of grapeshot. Macron emerges from this

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I got it wrong yesterday. I assumed that Macron’s refusal of Collomb’s resignation was meant to humiliate Collomb. It was, but I failed to reckon with Collomb’s orneriness. He resubmitted his resignation and did it in plain public view, in the pages of Le Figaro. It was a rerun of the Hulot spectacular public resignation, and the humiliated party turned out to be Macron. He may not recover from this blow to his aura. Il n’ y a que le ridicule qui tue, and in this sequence Macron has looked nothing if not ridiculous, first insisting that a minister who manifestly no longer wished to be one remain at his post, then by surrendering abjectly at the first (or was it the tenth?) whiff of grapeshot.

Macron emerges from this amateurish affair as a severely damaged president. His “Jupiterian” image is no more. Two of his top ministers have slammed the door in his face. He has lost his most credible “green” ally and one of his most significant prises de guerre from the Socialist camp, even as he was promising to reinforce his “social-ecological” bona fides. The president who would not tolerate the slightest couac in his team now presides over a shockingly public donnybrook. And the suspicion lurks that there is more to the Collomb departure than meets the eye. The elder minister’s loss of faith in his youthful boss was stunningly total and brutally frontal, with nary a word of praise or understanding to cover the breach.

Macron, who would not be president if he were not the luckiest man on the face of the earth, seems to have come to the end of his remarkable winning streak. Can he recover? No doubt, but it won’t be easy. The next elections are the Europeans, less than a year away, which are traditionally a moment for the electorate to costlessly sanction the incumbent power. Macron’s approval rating has plummeted. Many who voted for him in the first round in 2017 will relish the opportunity to express their regrets. If he doesn’t turn things around before then, his fall is likely to be more precipitous than either Hollande’s or Sarkozy’s, which is saying something. Après quoi, le déluge.

And with Merkel in an equally precarious situation in Germany and Italy perhaps on the verge of triggering a crisis with Brussels that will make the Greek imbroglio look like a minor skirmish in comparison, to say nothing of the impending Brexit debacle … Oy, vay iz mir.

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Art Goldhammer
Writer, translator, scholar, blogger on French Politics, affiliate of Harvard's Center for European Studies, writes for The American Prospect, The Nation, etc.

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