Crusty xenophobe Jean-Marie Le Pen has ceded control of his atavistic National Front party to the less-crusty xenophobe Marine Le Pen, his 42-year-old daughter.
Le Pen and his National Front are a sort of human time warp, demanding the return of the guillotine to the public square, the erection of altars to worship fetal tissue, the marginalization of all Hebrews, and expulsion of “the Moors” from France.
They are, in a word, “populists.” Of that breed of dangerous geek that some naive know-nothings on the American left currently think is A Real Good Thing. Ignoring the warning of America’s Cassandra, Robert Stone: “American populism, notorious as a pious front for venal corruption, [is] the curse of this nation, and now, empowered by American wealth and resources, a worldwide plague.”
Some pundits are opining that, with Marine Le Pen’s ascension, now maybe fewer people will notice that the National Front is a seething hellbroth of wackadoodle racists and knuckledraggers and throwbacks. Because Marine, unlike her father, looks and talks like a regular human:
While sharing many of her father’s far-right views, the 42-year-old blonde brings with her a less provocative, more telegenic image which the party hopes will give it an electoral breakthrough against President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Segolene Royal, who is competing to be the opposition Socialist candidate for president next year, said on Sunday that Le Pen was “a more credible and dangerous candidate than her father.”
The ideological alignment of French political parties can be initially deceiving to Americans.
The Le Pen family’s National Front, which is regarded throughout much of France as an embarrassing collection of clodhoppers and kooks, is roughly equivalent to the Republican Party in the US. That is, it wants nothing to do with anybody who is not a certified white person, believes that government serves best when serving the rich, and is constantly yearning to return to those halcyon days when all the world Did What It Said.
The Conservative Party, currently in power, most resembles the Democratic Party. It was French Conservatives who told George II to bugger right off when he rolled out Operation Iraqi Fiefdom, threatening to veto any resolution condoning the war that the US might try to stuff through the United Nations. The comparison is not precise, however; President Nicolas Sarkozy’s recent shameful flogging of the Roma was more a GOoPer thing.
The French Socialist Party I suppose could be compared to wild-eyed McGovern Democrats . . . most of whom are now either dead, hiding out in the hills, or long ago sold themselves into bondage in brokerage houses. To the left of the Socialists dwells a dizzying array of French people and parties that really have no counterpart in America, like Jose Bove, a French farmer who drove a bulldozer through a McDonald’s, and then was elected to a seat in the European Parliament.
It was French ennui with the enervated, rudderless, toothless Socialist Party that occasioned the Great French Electoral Crisis Of 2002.
Leftist French voters who would otherwise have voted Socialist stayed home, or cast ballots for one of the numberless minor parties roiling around further to the left. And so when the results of the initial round of voting came in, the Conservatives had amassed 19.88% of the vote, and the Socialists 16.18%. However, Le Pen’s National Front received 16.86% of the vote. This meant that the National Front beat out the Socialist Party, which was relegated to third, and would face off against the Conservatives in the second, final round of voting.
When these results were certified, the wailing from France could be heard around the world. Somehow or other the French people, to their shame, had managed to elevate the nutteroids of the National Front to the status of a legitimate political party. In a move unprecedented, the heads of every other political party in the country appealed to their adherents to flock to the polls to cast their ballots for the Conservative Party, so as to save the honor of France. It was imperative that the rest of the world be made to stop snickering that the French people had catapulted into the final round of voting a clown-car of buffoons like something out of, well, America. The French people responded to this call, and so, in the final round, the Le Pen nutteroids picked up barely an extra vote at all, crushed by the Conservatives 82.21% to 17.79%.
The Le Pen people have never really been able to attract more than 17% of the vote. And that is the essential difference between France and America: roughly 17% of the French are unevolved, as compared to the 45%-55% of unevolved humans who cast their ballots in the US for the Republican Party.
The English, who have never really forgiven the French for conquering faire Albion in 1066, never miss an opportunity to flog “the frogs.” And so, with Marine Le Pen, they are having a field day. Check out the language employed by The Guardian, one of the more sane, restrained, leftoid, non-francophobic publications in Britain:
You can tell Marine Le Pen is a daddy’s girl the moment you meet her. With her thick-set features and booming voice, the 42-year-old is clearly a chip off the formidable old block of Jean-Marie Le Pen, 82, who on Sunday handed her the reins of France’s Front National (FN).
Marine was weepy-eyed as she accepted the party leadership at its annual conference in Tours, making it clear that the family resemblance is not solely physical. If there’s anyone who can build on the emotional bigotry stirred up by Le Pen over the past four decades (he founded the FN in 1972 and has been its figurehead ever since), then it will be Marine.
But won’t a twice divorced mother of three let the side’s macho image down, alienating many of the unreconstructed thugs who turn up at party rallies?
Marine has not cultivated one of the hoarsest voices in French politics for nothing. It’s the result of years spent canvassing in the smoky hotspots of high-immigration cities such as Marseilles. She can push and shove with the worst of them, mimicking her father’s outraged face when necessary, and then relaxing into back-slapping bonhomie to seal a vote.
Ouch. This eyebrow-raising arch cattiness was accompanied by the photo pictured above, the sort of supremely unflattering shot that causes The Eggman to experience an orgasm when printing one of Hillary Clinton.
The National Front, even now with Marine at its head, is currently polling at around 13%. So until further notice, I am going to resist the notion that the French are going to be so easily seduced into unevolved nuttery, simply because it is voiced by a blonde woman considered—pace the British—”telegenic.” Not bloody likely, say I, that they will allow this woman to snare them as siren, so that they suddenly rush to “beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Marine Le Pen, like her father, is a ghost. Of other times, other worlds. Still walking among us, but destined, eventually, to fade right away.