My French friends must be happy that for the next few years the Palais de l’Élysée will be inhabited by both a perpetrator and a victim of statutory rape.
The criminal is Brigitte Trogneux, who 24 years ago seduced her pupil Manny Macron. According to modern ethos, this was supposed to traumatise the poor boy for life. It was also supposed to put the offender behind bars or at least have her struck off for life.
Now speaking from personal experience, or rather lack thereof, I doubt I would have felt traumatised if one of my better-looking female teachers had seduced me at 15. I know that none of my subsequent experiences, modest as they were, left an indelible scar.
In Manny’s case, such a traumatic experience would have been even less likely because, as one hears, he’s otherwise inclined anyway. Oh well, as that Brooklyn woman said, “Oedipus, schmedipus, as long he loves his Mum…”
Still, there are legal aspects to consider here, mutatis mutandis. Yes, the age of consent in France is 15, which is truer to life than our own puritanical 16, but rather more restrictive than Estonia’s 14 (I wonder if my travel agent has good deals on London-Tallinn airfares).
So Brigitte wouldn’t have been culpable on those grounds, but even naughty France frowns on 40-year-old teachers seducing 15-year-old pupils over whom they have authority. Too bad that France has copied the US in having statutes of limitations in its laws.
Yet I’m happy to see that, even if Manny found the original experience traumatic, he has then parlayed it into a rather successful political career. The statutory rapist is now ensconced at the presidential palace, and she’s even getting an unpaid job in the government.
I’m not certain what her title will be. Minister for plastic surgery in charge of oedipal affairs? Whatever it is, I’m sure Brigitte will handle it with élan – she strikes me as that kind of girl.
If you detect a note of frivolity in my treatment of this momentous event in French history, you’re right. It’s that rotten habit I have of relying on levity when gravity is impossible.
If you can find anything serious to say about the bone-crushing nonentity that’s Manny Macron, by all means enlighten me. If you can’t – and I’m sure you won’t be able to – then you must agree that the only qualification Manny has for presiding over one of the world’s most significant states isn’t what he is but what he isn’t: Marine Le Pen.
Modern politics just about everywhere, not just in France, has become a secular answer to apophatic theology. People justify their vote in purely negative terms; they vote not for but against.
I can’t for the life of me see how anybody, with the possible exception of Brigitte, can be enthusiastic about Manny qua Manny. He mouths platitudes on every subject under the sun without even realising that some of them – well, most – are mutually exclusive.
He talks about free trade while professing undying devotion to the EU, which, as a protectionist bloc, is the exact opposite of free trade. He talks about loving France and then screams his banalities to the accompaniment of the EU anthem and against the backdrop of the EU stars.
(It’s telling that the EU chose one of Beethoven’s few awful pieces, the last movement of his Ninth Symphony, as its anthem, and one of Europe’s few ugly capitals, Brussels, as its own.)
He mouths utter gibberish about Britain having imposed ‘liberal values’ on the EU, to which Europe can now say good riddance with a sigh of relief – while reaffirming his commitment to those same liberal values that in actual fact haven’t been imposed on the EU by Britain or anyone else.
Manny is a typical internationalist socialist apparatchik, who first pretended he was a socialist and then pretended he wasn’t. There’s really nothing one can say about him that hasn’t already been said about our own Tony Blair – another jumped-up nonentity committed to self-aggrandisement via supra-national politics. And Manny doesn’t even have Tony’s gift of the gab, such as it is.
What is worth talking about seriously is the huge disappointment experienced by our own Ukip types at the defeat of Putin’s inept employee Marine Le Pen.
Yes, she dislikes the EU, but then so does Putin – and so does every fascist party in Europe. But Le Pen’s economics is pure Trotsky – and everything else is pure Mussolini. So how does one make a choice between a mindless EU apparatchik and a mindless national socialist? This is your clear-cut case of apophatic politics: voting not for but against.
Seeing the world through the prism of that one issue is exactly what killed Ukip, which should remind us of the moral and intellectual paucity of single-issue politics. I despise it even when I happen to agree with the single issue, as I do in this case.
I detest the EU as much as does any fully paid-up member of Ukip – possibly even more because my objections to it are not just parochially patriotic but generally moral. I’ve lived under a regime totally based on lies, and I know the pitfalls involved.
But the regime I’ve lived under was also fascist, in the broad sense of the word, and I’m aware of those pitfalls too. It’s a matter of choosing the pitfall into which to stumble.
Given that choice, I’d rather spend half of my time in a sovereign Britain with the toxic EU dust shaken off her feet. But I’d rather spend the other half (as I do now) in a France enthralled in the evil I know, a tyrannical, utterly corrupt, mendacious EU, than in a France reeling under a fascist despotism I don’t know, but know everything about.
Add to this another dimension, that of Putin calling in his chits if Le Pen had won the election, and Manny, despicable zero that he is, and married to his surgically modified surrogate mother, becomes the lesser evil – an evil though he undoubtedly is nonetheless.