Alert #24: La Belle France

And here’s what they’ve been saying about Trump and related matters in France over the past week, again, selected, excerpted and translated by yours truly:

Le Monde 25 February:

Yoo-hoo, Washington–is anybody home?

One month into the Trump presidency and confusion on foreign policy, Europeans have grasped one thing: the lights are off and nobody’s home.

In the hallways at the security conference in Munich, Europeans were scratching their heads at the disastrous spectacle of confusion presented by their friends from across the Atlantic and wondering who will pick up in Washington when there are decisions to be made…

The presidential tweets with their proclamations and exclamation points are causing stupefaction and gnashing of teeth. Europeans have certainly had their differences with their big brother, the United States. The war in Iraq left no good memories, for example. But both sides have taken the transatlantic alliance for granted as firm and unwavering…Every year for the past 53 years, the Munich conference has considered threats to world security: Russia, North Korea, the Middle East, terrorism… Analyses might differ, but overall, Europeans and Americans were living in the same world.

A world which, as of February of 2017, has gone topsy-turvy. A month after Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House, Europeans are now starting to get that they’re on their own. Uncle Sam has gone bonkers. Who can be trusted in Washington?…Who’s in charge? When Vice President Mike Pence declares in Munich or Brussels the polar opposite of what his president says, does repeating, “President Trump told me to tell you that…” make him more believable? When will this president stop his flipflopping on China, Ukraine and Europe? One day, he declares NATO obsolete, then two weeks later it’s unshakeable. One day, he says that the European Union is a vehicle for Germany and, a month later, it’s a marvelous institution that causes joy to surge in the hearts of Europeans.

And what’s the true nature of this administration’s ties to Russia? The only certainty that Europeans took away from the meeting with senior American officials in February is that the number one problem today is neither Russia nor Syria, it’s US foreign policy. Or, rather the absence thereof. Under the US system, it’s the president who directs foreign policy. But what is going on in the head of this president?

Libération, 20 February

Marine Le Penn has begun using the term “fake news” for reports she doesn’t like, and her Front National has set up a “truth unit” which tends toward inaccuracies and errors.


Coverage of political opinions in “the unseen France,” this installment from a retirement home in Montpelier: According to Bernard and Josette [retirees], “If [Le Penn] is elected, she won’t be able to govern. She’ll be stymied from all  sides by the institutions.”

But another resident, Marie, refuses to even consider the scenario:

“If this misfortune comes to pass, it will be a tragedy for France! And then I would leave my country… if I could.”

Bernard says, “This lady embodies a general discontent. Her political tactic consists of saying things that are extreme, knowing all the while that if she’s elected she won’t be able to implement them.”

“She’s ahead in all the polls, and that means something,” Maurice sums it up. “Either people are unhappy, or else they are rejecting the current leadership. Or both.”

The Donald Trump presidency

After Trump’s criticisms of Paris, François Hollande now wants to invite him to Disneyland.

On Friday evening, the US president spoke of Paris in unflattering terms. Quoting someone [he knows] named Jim, who thinks that “Paris isn’t Paris any more,” Donald Trump also attempted to justify his immigration policy. “National security begins with border security. Foreign terrorists won’t be able to strike America if they cannot enter our country,” he added.

While visiting Disneyland, France’s most popular tourist site, Hollande retorted that he wished to “send the whole world the message that France is beloved (…) by Americans, that is, by most Americans, and the whole world loves France.” He added, “Perhaps I”ll send a special ticket to one American [unnamed] so that he can come to Eurodisney, at least, so that that person understands that this is France.”

Earlier that day while he was at the Agricultural Exhibit, Hollande had already responded once to the US president’s remarks, saying, among other things,”Here, people don’t pick up guns and shoot into crowds.”

La Tribune

“Is Trump an enemy? I don’t know. The United States, at any rate, remains an ally and a friend,” one diplomat hemmed and hawed. Referring to the president’s unfortunate tweets, he did concede, however, that “We are now facing a rather unusual type of governance.”


“Is the President of the United States off his rocker? North American psychiatrists have been asking the question publicly. The New York Times and other newspapers have suggested that he is insane. He is a figure who lends himself to this type of question: strange behavior, constant inaccuracies, baffling media antics and an entourage recruited from fringe movements.

But crazy? Donald Trump isn’t crazy; he’s simply channeling that segment of North American society that is dominated by money, racism, sexism, vulgarity, ignorance, in a word, stupidity. As the Jacques Brel song says:

“Greetings, Lady Stupidity,

Your popularity is hard to understand.

You’ve got lovers, supporters,

admirers and friends,

You sow confusion,

Delusion, illusion, exclusion.

Greetings, Lady Stupidity,

Tell us, oh where will it end?”

[Very free translation! See the original lyrics at this link:!]

lines 4-8.)

In fact, there have been many presidents who could be termed eccentric, if not outright crazy. Some examples: Herbert Hoover (president from 1929 through 1933) kept two pet alligators. His predecessor, Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) had two lions, a raccoon who was housebroken and Billy, a pygmy hippopotamus. Trump has his evangelicals and crackpot soothsayers.

Alerts will be now going on hiatus, whether temporarily or permanently is not yet clear.

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