Junior High a la Francaise
I’m sitting here in my Parisian living room watching the French legislative election returns on television, and, for some strange reason, am having painful flashbacks back to junior high. This is extremely disconcerting but when I explain to you what’s been going on in France this past week, you’ll understand (and you might start dreaming about your junior high school as well).
The biggest subject on campus is the electronic cat fight that started with a tweet and ended with the cat swallowing the canary. So, the “cat” who won is Valerie Trierweiler, supposedly the first lady of France. She is the “companion” of Francois Hollande, the newly-elected president of France. She used her smart phone to scandalize the country this week by sending one simple tweet supporting the Socialist candidate who was running against Segolene Royal. Now, Segolene Royal is Francois Hollande’s “ex-companion” and the mother of his four children and was also publicly supported by the president. Are you following this? I warned you – junior high.
What a Difference a Tweet Makes
As the week wore on, the tweet got more publicity than anyone’s political platform. Insults were thrown all over the place; one of the girls had tears in her eyes and everyone had an opinion about who is really running this country. The Prime Minister even publicly announced that this new first girlfriend should find her place and stay in it. The French population had elected Francois Hollande, not his girlfriend, so she should just zip it and let Segolene get elected to the National Assembly so that she could hang out with Francois again.
In the end, Segolene lost – it could have been because of the tweet, but it also could have been because the voters liked the other guy better. We will never know. Segolene used the word “treason” in her concession speech. Journalists asked her if she had been in touch with Francois Hollande to discuss her political career. She avoided answering. They asked her about the tweet; she avoided answering once more.
The President’s Avoidance Policy
But you know what I want to know? Where in hell’s name is the president? Is he watching the returns with the Tweet Queen hoping that she can wipe that smirk off her face? Is he secretly texting sympathetic messages to Segolene from the presidential bathroom? Why isn’t he on TV claiming victory for his party since they did a pretty job good in winning a clear majority in the legislative elections? Is he afraid of the questions the journalists would ask him?
The fine line between public and private is all messed up in France right now. The new girl in town might be modern and highly skilled in social media but she seems to be lacking in socio-political integration skills. The old girl in town (sorry Segolene) seems to be lacking in political clout, especially after today’s significant loss. It looks like there’s a serious chance that she might fade off into the sunset.
Who’s Afraid of Valerie Tweet?
And the new guy in all this? Is he really running the show? Is the President the one wearing the designer pants? Is he going to go public and tell the whole junior high of France which girl wins his heart? Or is he going to keep playing ostrich and wait until the tweet passes over? Someone should tell him – one tweet can hide another.