French president François Hollande’s woes have been building up since his liaison with actress Julie Gayet came to light a few weeks ago.
Since then, Hollande’s companion at the Elysée — actually, their flat in the 15th arrondissement — journalist Valérie Trierweiler was hospitalised for a week (my late grandmothers would have expressed this as ‘nerves’ — possibly not much more than a temporary heightened anxiety); a new book about him has appeared; an activist unloaded a pile of horse manure in front of the French house of Parliament; Hollande went to Vatican City for a half-hour private audience with the Pope (not much to report); Hollande’s close friendship with Gayet has been revealed to be of longer standing than a few weeks; a variety of Frenchmen took to the streets on Sunday, January 16, for a ‘day of anger’; Hollande announced his formal separation from Trierweiler; Trierweiler went to help an NGO in India; he went to Turkey and Monday’s unemployment figures have not improved as pledged.
All of this — and a bit more — happened in the matter of a few weeks. So far, 2014 has not augured well for the man.
As Hollande and Trierweiler were not married, a number of French people objected to her title as ‘First Lady’, a title unheard of in France until Hollande was elected. They also wondered how much the taxpayer was footing her bill.
Journalist Cécile Amar’s book Jusqu’ici tout va mal (Up to now, everything’s gone badly) — a prescient title, if ever there was one — chronicles, for the most part, his time as president. One of his first questions was, ‘How can I leave [the Elysée Palace] without being seen?’ He also wondered how he could go out on his own to ride his motor scooter.
Amar was interviewed on RMC’s Grandes Gueules recently. Whilst a bit reticent to tell all, probably to encourage sales for the book, she did say that Hollande had been very close to his late mother. The journalist said his mother gave him the idea that he was born under a ‘lucky star’. The inference people close to him have drawn from this is that Hollande — who doesn’t like making decisions — concludes that time will heal all things and a solution will appear eventually, based on events or circumstances.
Women in his life have said that he does not like to express emotion or feeling. He’s able to tell his famous petites blagues (little jokes) and smile but he doesn’t seem to get too involved with them on a deeper level.
Amar also said that his campaign team discouraged him from making his little jokes in 2012 prior to the election. Maybe they aren’t that amusing.
Furthermore, to the consternation of RMC’s Grandes Gueules, she said that Hollande is forceful with weak people and weak when confronted with stronger personalities. One panellist suggested that meant Hollande himself had a weak personal character.
But, back to the ladies. Indeed, many — especially a few from the conservative UMP party — have criticised his clinical announcement of his and Trierweiler’s split. The statement to AFP (Agence France Presse) began:
I make it known that I have put an end to the life in common that I shared with Valérie Trierweiler.
Two of the most often heard comments on that were: one, he sounds as if he’s talking about a politician and two, where’s the love?
RMC’s Eric Brunet — the only conservative (I’d call him centrist) presenter they have — posited that Hollande should publicly apologise for the poor employment rates. He reasons that, as president, Hollande should be held to account. Whilst eighty per cent of the audience disagreed with Brunet, he does have a point.
RMC’s other panellists, presenters — as well as RTL’s — almost all left-wing and secularists or Catholic in name only, brought up two frequent themes:
1/ A president should bear his responsibilities even though he enjoys privileged status.
2/ A man who cannot manage his own household cannot manage a country — and now we’ve seen proof of it. They also mentioned marriage as being important in the life of a French president. Hmm. Interesting most of them probably voted for him, then.
In support of the second point, it was interesting that they all cited Sarkozy (divorced and remarried early in his presidency) and Chirac (known for past adventures with the opposite sex) but no one mentioned François Mitterand — Hollande’s ‘sponsor’, if you will, in the early 1980s — and his daughter (via his mistress) whom no ordinary person found out about during his presidency. It emerged that the French press knew about her all along but did not think that revealing it was in the public interest.
However, the leftists did bring up a good point about managing one’s household and the ability to run a country. This perspective comes from the Bible, whether they are willing to admit it or not.
The first verse I thought of was Paul’s counsel to Timothy on the suitability for the first priests or pastors — ‘overseers’. The following is from 1 Timothy 3:
5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)
In Romans 13, Paul explains that our rulers and civil authorities — are (supposed to be) God’s servants:
4for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.
That’s just as difficult to accept now as it was in Paul’s time during Roman rule.
Because Proverbs 16:12 says:
12 Kings detest wrongdoing,
for a throne is established through righteousness.
Titus 2 says:
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.
The Catholic biblical canon includes the Book of Wisdom. This is what Wisdom 6 has to say to rulers — a sobering warning (emphases mine):
1 So then, you kings, you rulers the world over, listen to what I say, and learn from it. 2 You govern many lands and are proud that so many people are under your rule, 3 but this authority has been given to you by the Lord Most High. He will examine what you have done and what you plan to do. 4 You rule on behalf of God and his kingdom, and if you do not govern justly, if you do not uphold the law, if you do not live according to God’s will, 5 you will suffer sudden and terrible punishment. Judgment is especially severe on those in power. 6 Common people may be mercifully forgiven for their wrongs, but those in power will face a severe judgment. 7 The Lord of all is not afraid of anyone, no matter how great they are. He himself made everyone, great and common alike, and he provides for all equally, 8 but he will judge the conduct of rulers more strictly. 9 It is for you, mighty kings, that I write these words, so that you may know how to act wisely and avoid mistakes. 10 These are holy matters, and if you treat them in a holy manner, you yourselves will be considered holy. If you have learned this lesson, you will be able to defend yourselves at the Judgment. 11 So then, make my teaching your treasure and joy, and you will be well instructed.
I rather doubt that many heads of state or prime ministers are concerned about being holy, yet, even the aforementioned secular leftists in France realise that there is something more to governing than living luxuriously and doing as one pleases.
I’m not advocating Mosaic Law, but there were lessons to be learned from the way Israel had to repent for unintentional sins which came to light later. Could voting for the wrong candidate be a cause for contrition and repentance? This is from Leviticus 4:
13 “‘If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, when they realize their guilt 14 and the sin they committed becomes known, the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the tent of meeting.
Leaders were not excluded from a similar penance:
22 “‘When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the commands of the LORD his God, when he realizes his guilt 23 and the sin he has committed becomes known, he must bring as his offering a male goat without defect.
We do not offer sacrifices — Christ is the one perfect propitiation for our sins — but we still have the occasion and need for repentance.
I warned in 2012 that a Hollande presidency would be dire for France, and so it has become. However, the French were so eager to boot Sarkozy out the door that it barely mattered who succeeded him. (Ironically, today, Sarkozy is much higher in French popularity polls than Hollande.)
Sins on the part of the president, sin on the part of the voters?
This is why it is so important to be politically aware. Understand the candidates and their policies. Vote accordingly.