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Barack Obama, the Edgar Faure of American Politics

If I ever write a “self-help” book, it will be All I Ever Knew About Politics I Learned From the French. (Click here for some of what I have actually written.)  Watching the French makes one a cynic, and at times like this it holds one in good stead.

My French teacher in prep school would, in the course of trying to teach us the language of Bossuet and Camus, talk about French politics from time to time.  One of those was Edgar Faure, Premier twice during the Fourth Republic, in 1952 and 1955.  My teacher told me that, every time Faure became Premier, the stock market went down.  His first premiership was characterised by its opponents as ”the Government of 40” because it lasted 40 days, had 40 ministers and supposedly cost the treasury 40 billion francs.”  (He himself said that he lost 4 kilos during the ordeal.)

Today we have an American President who, after campaigning on change we can believe in and writing about the audacity of hope, has given neither hope nor believable change to investors, who are driving the stock market down.  And the only forty day event we can see is the Lenten season we’re in.  Many of those investors, who voted for him out of fear of what “flyover country” would bring to the White House, are now making the market “fly-out country.”

If this were France, we’ve have a populace who would be busy stuffing gold in the mattress, evading taxes and figuring out ways of surviving under a government whose main interest is its own.  But what we have is a naive people who are bawling to a government for deliverance which can only come from God.

Faure, a witty and prolific writer, was accused to being a “weathercock,” changing his direction with the flow of public opinion.  According to legend, his response was that “it is not the weathercock which turns; it is the wind!”  Bill Clinton certainly followed this idea.  The way Obama is going about his own program, he’s making turning in the wind look good.


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