Why Can’t They Eat Cake?

You might be aware of the sensational book recently published (SEP 4) in France, written by Valérie Trierweiler. She is the former “First Lady” – except that she and French President François Hollande weren’t married, he has never been married – who was rather unceremoniously booted out last January after Hollande took a fancy to a younger, blonde actress and started departing the Elysée Palace on the sly – and on a scooter – for their assignations. Trierweiler has now shown how she had plenty of dirt to dish on her presidential ex-lover, and the French political scene is still recoiling in shock from her revelations.

But it has been one of those in particular that has struck a special chord among the public. In her words (my translation, as usual):

He [Hollande] has presented himself as the man who doesn’t like the rich. In reality, the president doesn’t like the poor. He may be a man of the Left, but in private he refers to the “toothless ones” [les sans-dents], very proud of his sense of humor.

Lord knows what particular train of thought led Hollande to come up with this particular expression. But perhaps it has a certain historical element: there was a similar term during the French Revolution for the uneducated masses – the rabble, if you like – who made up the vast majority of both the revolutionary mobs and of the French national armies which would go on to conquer most of Europe. That was sans-culottes, or those without culottes which were the sort of silken “knee-breeches” worn in that period by middle-class men and above.

Naturally, Hollande never intended this particular pet phrase of his to get out to the public. But now it has anyway, all thanks to the woman he spurned, and you can bet he is mortified about it. All the more since the phrase has in turn been taken up by that widespread – and growing – segment of the population that has grown tired of both this president and his policies. As we see here:

SansDents
“The Toothless: That’s Now!” it reads at the bottom there. And you’ll notice that the attractive lady at the forefront also seems to be wearing a red revolutionary’s cap from those heady days back at the end of the 18th century when the French aristocracy was being systematically beheaded. You have to hope that that seeming void inside her mouth – although necessary to make the point – was only Photoshopped.

By now, Sans-dents is an opposition rallying-cry far beyond Hollande’s control. There has quickly accumulated around it the usual on-line appurtenances one routinely expects in the year 2014: there’s a website, of course (slogan: “Better to be toothless than cojones-less”), the Facebook page provides further material to chew over, and you can also follow this nascent movement on Twitter (in French, bien sûr). There’s a big demonstration of these sans-dents planned for next Friday (SEP 19) before the presidential palace. It’s a phrase you just can’t get away from in France today. Indeed, part of the Presidential office’s attempt to recover some political ground has been Hollande’s public statement that Trierweiler’s dental allegation “is a lie that cuts me to the quick.”

Meanwhile, a companion news-piece helpfully points out that, even given France’s internationally high standard of health care provision, 35% of the population have had to forego dental treatment due to inability to afford it.

Dentaires
The President himself, though, as you can see, has at least a fine upper-set of choppers.

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