The motives for Macron’s pathetic insult to Trump over nationalism

The old ironic saying, “No good deed goes unpunished,” helps explain the rude and inappropriate hijacking of a solemn commemoration of the end of World War 1 by French President Emmanuel Macron. By now, you probably have seen that (via Reuters):

French President Emmanuel Macron used an address to world leaders gathered in Paris for Armistice commemorations on Sunday to send a stern message about the dangers of nationalism, calling it a betrayal of moral values.

With U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin sitting just a few feet away listening to the speech via translation earpieces, Macron denounced those who evoke nationalist sentiment to disadvantage others.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,” Macron said in a 20-minute address delivered from under the Arc de Triomphe to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.

“By pursuing our own interests first, with no regard to others’, we erase the very thing that a nation holds most precious, that which gives it life and makes it great: its moral values.”

This is repulsive moral preening…



…on the basis of nonsense. As Rick Moran put it: “Macron can virtue signal all he wants, but in the end, if he put the interests of any other country before those of France, he would be hung from the Eiffel Tower by voters.”

The real question is why Macron would go out of his way to insult our president in this way. There are two related reasons, I think.

One is that attacking America as somehow morally inferior to Europe or France is popular, and Macron’s popularity with French voters has tanked:

In May 2017, the 39-year old Emmanuel Macron was elected French president with an emphatic 62 percent approval rating.

The Guardian described the victory as a vote for hope. Celebrating Macron’s pro-Europeanism, Germany’s Handelsblatt wrote, “There is renewed hope for the European project.”

The Economist’s cover showed Macron walking on water.(snip)

Instead, just 18 months later, his approval rating has fallen below 30 percent. Polls are beginning to reflect those low personal approval ratings. Even as Macron is making grand plans to lead a new political force into the European Parliament next year, his Achilles heel at home continues to undermine him.

The centenary yesterday was an awkward reminder to the French that they were twice conquered by the Germans, and twice rescued by American intervention on their side. Yes, French women kissed American soldiers as liberators both times when they arrived in France, but gratitude yields to resentment over time, because it is uncomfortable to confront one’s own inadequacies, personally or nationally.

But there is another reason for Macron’s outburst, and Jed Babbin gets it:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s thirteen-year reign over Germany — and thus the European Union — is almost over. Since the Trump presidency became fact, Merkel has been referred to in the European press as the “leader of the free world.” But now she’s about to lose the leadership of her own party and her chancellorship may soon be over.

With the Merkel era over, and with no German leader of stature in the warm-up circle, the leadership of the EU will pass to France. As he demonstrated during last weekend’s centenary celebration of the end of World War I, French President Emmanuel Macron is eagerly campaigning for the job. He has a very large pantsuit to fill, and he’s playing a weak hand.

Babbin suspects that the decision to bash Trump was in reaction to the failure of a previous gambit by Macron:

In a Paris celebration of France’s role in World War I, Macron honored several French generals including Marshal Petain. Petain’s role in World War I was to lead the French army to a stalemated war that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of French soldiers. During World War II, Petain headed the Nazi-collaborating “Vichy” government that oversaw the deportation of tens of thousands of French Jews to Nazi death camps.

When that didn’t go so well, Macron reverted to the other means of gathering support among French voters: America-bashing.

President Macron is going to find out something: President Trump is a bad man to cross. Although he did not react during the Paris ceremonies, he will, at a time, place, and occasion of his choice. 

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