April 28, 2002

I’VE BEEN PROPERLY CHASTENED BY READERS for my remarks about Le Pen, below. A French reader writes:

“A Le Pen administration might provide a salutary and much-needed wake-up call to the corrupt and intellectually bankrupt Europolitical crowd. The ideal outcome for me, I guess, would be for Le Pen to lose, but by a tiny margin.”

I do not know if you have read the guy’s proposals, apart from his populist formulas like “the euro is an occupation money” that you seem to enjoy, but a Le Pen victory would not just be a “wake up call”. It would most likely mean a civil war in our country, not to mention the prospect of a commercial war between France and about the rest of the world (the guy wants to “protect our national industry” by all means).

In addition, I’m quite surprised and saddened that you see it as just another thing to laugh at about us damn Frogs. This event certainly shows that we are indeed the “sick man of Europe”, but I don’t quite see what’s so great about it, and I certainly do not feel that a Chirac victory by a quick margin would bring about what you seem to envision. At best, I could only send the wrong message to our politicians who would feel obliged to be even more nationalist and protectionist. Finally, Le Pen is, for the record, a great admirer and supporter of Sadam Hussein (his wife his president of an association that raises money for the Iraki regime)…would you really feel delighted if such a guy was close to winning the French presidency ?

Meanwhile reader Adam Felber notes:

As much as I enjoy watching the French squirm, I can’t say I’d like to see Le Pen win. It’s worth remembering that France is a nuclear nation with more warheads than China. I know Cold War H-bomb fears are long out of vogue, but a Le Pen government might be just crazy enough…

Both are quite right, and I shouldn’t have been so flippant. I suppose it’s been too hard for me to really imagine Le Pen winning to take the threat seriously, but of course that doesn’t mean that his victory would be a good thing.

I guess I was just responding to the unwillingness of Eurocrats in general and the French political system in particular to accept any less dramatic correctives. But I agree that a Le Pen victory would very likely be disastrous, even if (as I expect) it never led to nuclear war.

UPDATE: Reader David Shulman writes in response:

I think you were right about Le Pen the first time. Although he is frequently called an “anti-semite” by the Left, I think that he would be “good for the Jews.” He would not put up with the violent crimes being committed on a daily basis by Arab hooligans. I’m Jewish, and if I lived in France, I’d probably vote for him.

Interesting. Maybe he has got a shot. . . .