Obama Has Lost the French, Too

The reverberations of the Democratic Party’s grand defeat in Tuesday’s midterm elections continue to echo from various foreign observers. Now Le Monde Diplomatique (a monthly, strictly speaking) contributes a trenchant commentary, written by no less than the paper’s editorial director, Serge Halimi: Electoral rout for a president without a plan.

The verdict? Bitter disappointment, as you can tell from the headline. For we have to remember that, in reality, Obama’s real mission as American head of state has always been to make the country more like the France epitomized precisely by Le Monde Diplomatique – just ask any Tea Partier. (Well, they’d probably leave out that very last part, having never heard of the publication.) Halimi writes in a despairing tone that Obama since his inauguration has “missed the chance to profoundly reform his country by pointing it in a progressive direction.” What’s more: “That the Republicans are returning to the front rank two years after the debacle of President Bush says enough, in any rate, about the ravaging power of national dissatisfaction.” Ouch!

Now, perhaps the president feels the “frustration” he can sense in the electorate is all down to a mere failure of communication. Not so, writes Halimi, and here I must quote at length to do justice to his comprehensive indictment:

In reality, the American people have just expressed more than “frustration” or unhappiness ascribable to deficient “pedagogy.” They have punished a hesitant and cowardly economic policy when it came to reviving [economic] activity; the economist Paul Krugman has never ceased to prove that the level of federal budgetary reflation was insufficient to assure recovery, taking into account the austerity policies undertaken at the same time at the state level. The electorate equally disavowed a health reform which was the visible result of compromise and bad faith bargaining, including with the main pillars (pharmaceutical lobby and insurance lobby) of an unfair and onerous system. Finally, the young, the militants, turned away from a presidency that, even though it had assured legislative support, never knew how to demonstrate either “leadership” nor the will to make a drastic break on the question of the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, nor on the closure (promised but endlessly put off) of the Guantanamo prison, nor on the climate change front, nor even towards bringing to an end the discrimination that hits homosexuals serving the colors.

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