By Andrew McKillop

Recent US polls give Obama’s approval rating at most and at best around 40%. Most Americans have no confidence in him, his administration and his policies. Not only Republicans and right wingers say that Obama has trashed the American ideal of being a resilient and resourceful people. Critics add up the doleful record of Obama failings. These include $16 trillion of national debt of which more than $5 trillion was added in the last 36 months, a probable real rate of adult unemployment of 16% (compared with administration claims around 8%), constant and huge budget deficits, a wilting housing market, and what the US Army and armed forces-friendly website calls the most arrogant-ever First Family where Obama’s “Butt ugly Marie-Antoinette snob wife constantly takes luxury vacations while the rest of Americans suffer an unadmitted economic depression”.

Marie-Antoinette is alive and well and operating in her home country of today’s France, in the shape of Francois Hollande’s live-in ladyfriend. She is Valerie Trierweiller ­ inevitably dubbed the Rottweiler First Lady ­ accused by both the right wing UMP and some sections of Hollande’s own Parti Socialiste of encouraging her man’s increasingly curt, flippant and dismissive attitude to France and the real problems of the French.

Opinion polls in France would make Obama shrink further into his cave. Few polls show Hollande scoring even 25% approval ratings. Pollsters in France don’t go back a hundred years when gauging Hollande’s dismal popularity ­ they simply say he is the most unpopular French president since polling of views on the president began in the 1950s, during the 4th Republic.

Since 1956, France has its 5th Republic. Hollande’s 4th Republic presidency is outdated and out of time.


Marie-Antoinette in fact recommended cakes and circuses as a neat way to tame the famished mob, storming the Bastille in 1789, but Hollande’s 2013 version features bombs and circuses. Hollande has rapidly gained himself the status of war president ­ as long as it concerns small, faraway attempts at projecting “French military grandeur” which do not cause too many French soldiers to get injured or die. Paying for the “quick and dirty” little wars is however already a major political issue. The opposition UMP underlines that the Mali and Central African Republic wars are costing around 7 million euros-a-day. Can a country with a massive budget deficit and huge sovereign debt load afford this? More especially since other EU countries, and the US show no interest at all in coming along for the ride ­ or paying anything but symbolic amounts to France for its “civilizing mission” war party.

To be sure, there are some if not many Op Ed writers outside France (but almost none inside the country) who still laud Hollande. John Vinocour writing for ‘Wall St Journal’ pens Hollande-friendly homilies on a regular basis, for example lauding France’s “admirable willingness to put its military at risk against al-Qaeda” and claiming that France was the only western country prepared to “take a firm line” on both Syria and Iran.

However, in a Dec 24 piece for ‘WSJ’ Vinocaur himself had to admit that 75% of French think the country is on the decline and that 83% think Hollande is either deliberately, or by flippant disinterest and incompetence, failing to do anything at all to right the economy ­ but instead bleats about “competitiveness” day and night.
Across Europe, Hollande has fewer and fewer allies and fans. President of the ECB, Mario Draghi has said that the Hollande regime’s attempts at “strengthening public finances can no longer rely on tax increases.”. But as Marie-Antoinette would have approved with a sweet smile, the people only get more taxes alongside the designer wars over the horizon. They are supposed to be thrilled! But they are not.

A lot less amusing and much more immediate, giving ever more credibility and public approval to the far right or “sovereignist” National Front of Marine Le Pen, Hollande’s PS government has launched a strange pseudo-populist campaign to fight racial discrimination while strengthening French national pride and self-identity. The direct result is already-severe, but further-rising tensions between the native French white population, and Muslim-origin French as well as Black African-origin French whose combined population – treated as a state secret ­ is probably above 8.5 million in the country’s total population of 65 million.

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