Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day of socialist symbols

I was thrilled by yesterday's presidential happenings. To start the ball rolling at the Elysée Palace, viewers saw Nicolas Sarkozy wearing high heels like those on cowboy boots, producing the impression that he was as tall as his wife Carla Bruni, not to mention the new president. Since Sarkozy always walks with the gait of a roughrider who has just picked himself up after being thrown off a rodeo buckjumper, the global effect was comical.

After the inaugural ceremony, François Hollande was driven up the Champs-Elysées in an open-top Citroën described as hybrid (running simultaneously on conventional fuel and electricity). For the rain gods hovering over the City of Light, this was too good an opportunity to miss. Viewers had excellent closeup views of the wetness extending over the head and shoulders of the newly-elected president. When he got out of his Citroën to "reanimate" the flame above the tomb of the Unknown Warrior under the Arc de Triomphe (technically, it's simply a matter of opening a gas valve to multiply the volume of the flame), Hollande was clearly soaked.

The electoral slogan of François Hollande was "Change is for now". Yesterday, back at the presidential palace, change #1 concerned Hollande's soaked clothes. When he reappeared at a small lunch table in the company of former Socialist prime ministers (Pierre Mauroy, Edith CressonLaurent Fabius and Lionel Jospin), Hollande was dry as a bone.

The first of three major afternoon rendezvous, all highly symbolic, was a wreath-laying ceremony at the foot of the statue of Jules Ferry in the Tuileries park between the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre.

Jules Ferry [1832-1893]

All French children are told that Ferry was the man who invented the republican concept of free and obligatory schooling. Since Hollande has insisted constantly that French youth and education are pillars of his political aspirations, his oration at this place had a high symbolic value. And the rain gods were kind to the mob of school kids who were there to greet the new president.

The second rendezvous, in the Latin Quarter, concerned the great Marie Curie, who might be thought of as the instigator of France's future prowess in the domain of nuclear engineering.

Marie Curie [1867-1934]

At this point in space and time, while Hollande was wandering around alongside the medical research institute, the rain and hail gods decided to get back into action... while crowds of joyous technicians looked down upon the scene from the dry shelter of their laboratories. Change #2, at the town hall in Paris: once again, it was a matter of changing Hollande's soaked clothes.

A marvelous complicity existed between the new president and the Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoë, not to mention the crowd of guests invited along to a reception in the vast hall of the Hôtel de Ville. It might be said that delivering an oration in the heart of Paris, inspired by the history of the great city, is an easy task, because there are so many colorful and dramatics themes that can be introduced. It was also an emotional operation. I had the impression that many onlookers were rubbing tears out of their reddened eyes. Me too, for that matter.

François Hollande had already set out towards Germany in a presidential jet when the storm gods intervened once again. The plane was struck by lightning. So, change #3 involved returning to the military airfield on the outskirts of Paris and changing planes.

For François Hollande, if not for France, what a great day of change!

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