French voters delivered a resounding victory for inclusion. Now to make it work…. (More)
“The task that awaits us, my fellow citizens, is immense and it starts tomorrow”
France on Sunday shrugged off the siren call of right-wing populism that enchanted voters in the United States and United Kingdom, rejecting anti-E.U. firebrand Marine Le Pen and choosing as its next president Emmanuel Macron, a centrist political neophyte who has pledged to revive both his struggling country and the flailing continent.
The result brought to a close a tumultuous and polarized campaign that defied prediction at nearly every turn, although not at the end. Pre-election polls had forecast a sizable Macron victory, and he delivered – winning some 66 percent of the vote.
The landslide was just the latest blow in 2017 for far-right movements that had seemed to be on the march last year but have suffered setbacks in recent months across continental Europe.
In a pointed endorsement of European unity, Macron strode to the stage at his raucous victory party in the grand central courtyard of Paris’ Louvre Museum on Sunday night to the strains of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” theme, the European Union’s anthem.
“The task that awaits us, my fellow citizens, is immense and it starts tomorrow,” Macron said as thousands of supporters cheered and waved French flags.
It was a victory for inclusion, as Macron proudly ran against the Le Pen’s xenophobic nationalism. He campaigned on improving the European Union and preserving immigration and trade.
And Le Pen’s defeat was the third in six months for Russian-backed right-wing candidates, after losses in Austria in December and the Netherlands in March. Perhaps the God-King’s victory was an effective warning.
“Now comes the hard part”
The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne and the Washington Monthly’s David Atkins offer similar analyses with almost identical headlines: Macron won (WaPo)/wins (WaMo) – Now comes the hard part. They’re both reading in full, but here’s the nutshell version….
France’s biggest trade unions on Sunday issued warnings over the victory of Emmanuel Macron in the country’s presidential election, with one union calling for a demonstration on May 8.
The CFDT, France’s biggest union, welcomed Macron’s victory in a statement but added that the National Front’s score was still too high.
“Now, all the anxieties expressed at the ballot by a part of the electorate must be heard. The feeling of being disenfranchised, of injustice, and even abandonment is present among a large number of our citizens. The CFDT calls on Emmanuel Macron not to turn a deaf ear to this despair,” it said.
Moreover, France holds separate presidential and parliamentary elections. The latter will happen next month and Macron’s En Marche! party currently have exactly zero members of parliament. They plan to run candidates in all 557 constituencies, but En Marche! is a brand new party and it’s unlikely they’ll have the depth of resources or support to win anywhere close to 259 seats.
Instead, Macron will have to form alliances with one or more of the established parties … and somehow not let their establishment-ness hamstring his reform agenda. That will be a tricky proposition and, as Dionne and Atkins both caution, failure would strengthen Le Pen’s appeal.
Even so, a hearty “Thank you!” to the voters, and Vive la France!
“This is not the person he said he would deport”
A Sunday 60 Minutes report detailed the story of Roberto Beristain, an immigrant deported to Mexico after being in the U.S. for nearly 20 years.
Family and friends of the Granger, Ind., business owner spoke with the CBS News program, expressing frustration that someone with no criminal record was separated from his wife and children, who are all citizens.
“It just feels wrong,” Kimberly Glowacki, a resident of the same town, told 60 Minutes.
Michelle Craig, who voted for President Trump, said she did so because Trump promised to deport dangerous criminals.
This is not the person he said he would deport,” she said. “The community is better for having someone like” Beristain in it.
Beristain was the longtime cook and new owner of a restaurant in town, “Eddie’s Steak Shed,” that employs about 20 people, 60 Minutes noted. He had no criminal record. He entered the U.S. in 1998 illegally but had been issued a temporary work permit, social security number and driver’s license under the Obama administration.
I have plenty of sympathy for Beristain. I have none for people who voted for the God-King, as polls show 87% of Republicans still approve of his harsh anti-immigration policies. They just didn’t think the God-King would target someone they like.
“There are so many questions here as to who knew what when”
After the White House’s biggest legislative victory yet with the House’s narrow passage Thursday of the American Health Care Act, momentum will slow as the Senate settles in to rework the bill – potentially from scratch. The White House is also heading for a political buzzsaw as Russia’s election interference takes center stage in congressional hearings.
Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates heads to Capitol Hill on Monday to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador and her efforts to warn the Trump administration about Flynn’s changing story. The ex-adviser was already in the headlines after the Washington Post and Associated Press reported Friday that Flynn had been warned by transition officials about speaking to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
With Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appearing before senators Monday, the White House is bracing for new questions about its least favorite story.
Senators on Sunday were already being pressed on the Russia issue.
“What was particularly wrong was Gen. Flynn not being truthful about the substance of what he said,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of the intelligence committee, told NBC’s Meet the Press. He said Trump’s transition team was apparently concerned about that too, “and it appears they should have been.”
“But there are so many questions here as to who knew what when, what was done with this,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told the program.
But here’s the really important thing. We don’t know yet quite what Flynn’s game was – reckless, stupid, crooked or operating with some darker agenda? Trump meanwhile was almost totally ignorant of the most rudimentary knowledge of security and foreign policy. He is also notorious for believing and saying whatever he heard from the last person he talked to.
Let’s assume for the moment the Mr Magoo version of the Trump campaign and presidency (not at all implausible): ignorant, gullible, angry, reckless.
These were months when Flynn was carrying on conversations with the Russian Ambassador; he was acting as a paid foreign agent working on behalf of the Republic of Turkey; he was discussing plans to abduct a U.S. permanent resident and deliver him back to Turkey; he was being paid by a Turkish-American businessman who also had ties back to Russia. On the most generous view, the mix of Flynn’s recklessness and corruption and Trump’s impulsiveness and gullibility leave a high, high probability that Flynn involved Trump in his nonsense.
Now there’s evidence that other people in the God-King’s transition team were raising red flags … and the classic Watergate question returns: “What did the God-King know about Flynn, and when did he know it?”
Austria, the Netherlands, and now France rejected Russian-backed wingnuts. Republicans may soon wish they had too….
Photo Credit: Collins Flags
Good day and good nuts