The first round of the French presidential election is on 10 April 2022, and far-right voters are deserting Marine Le Pen for a contender even further to the right, Eric Zemmour. In part, it’s the Gallic machismo thing because, le scandale, rumour has it Zemmour (63) is making the beast-with-two-backs with his campaign director Sarah Knafo (28).
If that’s the case, then bravo Eric — definitely punching above your weight. But maybe also an instructive lesson for Marine Le Pen, ostensibly President Macron’s greatest rival, who has failed to keep voter-magnet neice Marion Maréchal-Le Pen by her side.
It’s all about optics, literally.
Plebs want something belle comme un coeur in compensation for those dull political speeches. Even in French they’re dull.
Eric Zemmour’s biggest drawback is that he looks like Monty Burns.
While Marine Le Pen may have made it to Time magazine’s 2021 list of the most influential Europeans, she has a face like a hockey player’s elbow. They’re both going to need help if they plan to take down The Manu.
So my advice to Zemmour is keep the rumours flying. Can’t hurt. And if Le Pen wants to revive her campaign, she needs to persuade her neice to make an occasional public appearance by her side to gird the loins of wavering conservatives.
Maybe it’s that simple, and that banal.
Because conservatives paddle in the shallow-end of the gene pool, things like looks matter to them. Eric Zemmour’s appeal to the discerning fascist should be his evil intelligence; but no — instead, they’re attracted because a guy who looks like him is supposedly banging a girl who looks like her?
Macron, to his immense credit, swims in the deeper end of the pool.
Having his wife Brigitte so publicly by his side makes a mockery of his opponents’ superficiality. That’s why I love France. A nice guy can marry his former schoolteacher and become president, and an ugly old essayist can milk scandal sufficient to challenge him.
Vive la différence!