Where PC meets overweening government power, a terrible politics is born Mar 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 27 • By CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL
On a bright Wednesday afternoon in late February a bunch of French Muslims gathered in an upstairs room at the Café du Pont Neuf on the Seine. They had summoned a group of Internet journalists before whom they intended to lay out a few grievances. Their leader, Farida Belghoul, a 55-year-old Frenchwoman of Algerian Kabyle background, is a veteran of the movement that, back in the 1980s, sought to rally North African immigrants’ children (known as beurs) behind Socialist president François Mitterrand. Belghoul was the eloquent and camera-friendly voice of the so-called Second March of the Beurs in 1984, but she drifted from view after that. She has spent the intervening years teaching, writing novels, making films, studying, and, most recently, living in Egypt. Journalists who have written about ethnicity, immigration, and left-wing politics in decades past retain a vague memory of her name.
Those who have reacquainted themselves with Belghoul in recent months have been shocked to see what has become of this onetime hope of socialism. She has seen a few things. She has drawn closer to God. And she has become the sworn enemy of the French Ministry of Education’s ideas about what children should be taught about sex. In the audience at the café, silhouetted against the windows that face across the Seine toward the towers of the Conciergerie, there were women in headscarves. But the speakers sitting at Belghoul’s side included leaders of Christian organizations, conservative politicians, a priest, and a former member of Nicolas Sarkozy’s cabinet. Many of them until quite recently thought of Muslim immigration as a menace to the Republic. All were there to pay their respects to a woman who, for now at least, has become one of the most important right-wing leaders in France.
An embitterment has entered French politics under the presidency of François Hollande, the first Socialist to run France since the last century. Voters chose Hollande in 2012 as a way of administering a slap to the brassy martinet Sarkozy, but Hollande’s popularity has fallen steadily since. The economy is flat. Hollande’s advisers—mostly people of retirement age—keep scolding the public about how they ought to work harder. The Red Bonnets, a movement of protest against the green taxes that are hitting farmers hard, have been on the march in Brittany. Economic inequality has worsened, and the Paris economist Thomas Piketty—whose new book on inequality has made bestseller lists—took to the pages of the daily Libération to describe Hollande as a “serial bumbler.” Hollande is his party’s most prominent champion of French involvement in the 28-nation superstructure of the European Union, at a time when a majority (58 percent) of Frenchmen want less of it. The country’s unemployment rate is over 10 percent, and Hollande’s approval ratings have fallen into the teens. Never in recent decades has a Western European leader been less popular.
It is not usually fruitful to compare foreign leaders with American presidents, but there is a reason Hollande hit it off so well with President Obama on his state visit last month. Both have a mild manner that is an inestimable asset when the leader of the party that likes to shake things up is courting swing voters. Both, though, are ideological adventurers, with a reverence towards what the university utopians in their party dream up, even if they are not dreamers themselves. But Obama has trump cards Hollande lacks: a reserve currency, an empire, a vast army. He also has Republican opponents who have restrained him from nominating too many Van Joneses and Debo Adegbiles. Hollande has had the personal good fortune, and the political bad fortune, to get the allies he has wished for. He has wound up beholden to the Europe-Écologie party (EELV), which is too radical for most French voters’ tastes.
It was partly at the EELV’s suggestion that Hollande went out on a limb last winter and legalized gay marriage. It was a mistake. The law has been more ferociously resisted in France than in any Western country. As with President Obama’s health care reform, the passage of the law has done nothing to settle the argument over it. The protests have continued. The problem, it is clear, was not just the law itself but also the spirit in which it was offered. “It’s a reform of society,” said justice minister Christiane Taubira in late 2012, “and you could even say a reform of civilization.” That remark, and others like it, awakened a section of political France that had been slumbering for decades—the Catholic part, the traditionalist part, the sort of people who have five kids, favor cardigans over hoodies, and can describe France as the “eldest daughter of the church” without snickering.
Remember the liberal war on the automobile? Feb 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 23 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Seems like this is the season for showing the American automobile some love. Also, the town that the automobile built—Detroit, aka the Motor City, where packs of feral dogs now roam the streets and den up in vacant lots between the abandoned buildings. Detroit, these days, seems far more deserving of pity than celebration.
Still, Vice President Joe Biden showed up for the annual Detroit auto show in January and delivered the usual talking points. American manufacturing is back. “We bet on American ingenuity, we bet on you, and we won.”
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:35 PM, Dec 31, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast, with editor William Kristol with a look back at 2013 and how President Obama's liberalism fared this year.
Obamacare is inimical to their values, tooDec 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 15 • By CHRISTOPHER DEMUTH SR.
Obamacare may or may not survive its inauspicious beginnings. It has become dangerously unpopular and accident-prone and faces a minefield of difficulties. Still, the Obama administration has a plausible strategy: to titrate the program’s numerous taxes, subsidies, mandates, and restrictions so as to forestall immediate legislative or electoral reversal, thereby entrenching its basic structure for tightening as future circumstances permit.
8:15 AM, Nov 28, 2013 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
On the one hand, this is a pretty dour Thanksgiving. Iran has just won an enormous diplomatic victory, which not only sets them on the road to nuclear weapons but makes the fecklessness of the Western powers clear to the world. Harry Reid's decision to destroy the filibuster signals an escalation in the ugliness of American politics. And let's not forget that we're still mired in a recovery that's looking more like the new normal with each passing week. Humbug.
Nov 11, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 09 • By PETER WEHNER
The president’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, is in serious trouble. As a result, so is modern liberalism. The problems with Obamacare are increasingly obvious, beginning with the administration unilaterally delaying the employer mandate. But that turned out to be merely one link in a long and troublesome chain.
11:13 AM, Sep 12, 2013 • By JONATHAN BRONITSKY
Hardly an academic semester goes by without a high-profile opportunity arising for the right to address pervasive, perennial anti-conservative animus on the American college campus. And hardly an academic semester goes by without the right, reflexively blinded by righteous indignation, blowing an opportunity to do so.
No, but it doesn’t understand them. Jul 8, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 41 • By PETER BERKOWITZ
Study of the humanities has never been more important to the welfare of the nation. Information whizzes by at breakneck speed. The contest between conservative and progressive visions of government’s scope and aim in a free society implicates rival understandings of human nature. The ways of life of people in far-off lands have direct impact on our prosperity and security.
An Obama administration ‘blueprint’ targets free expression on campuses. Jun 10, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 37 • By CHARLOTTE ALLEN
It's a well-known fact that on most college campuses, supposedly havens of academic freedom, you really have to watch what you say.
Alas, the Woody Guthrie industry unearths a novel. Apr 15, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 29 • By MICHAEL WARREN
To many in our cultural elite, Woody Guthrie is an American saint. The legendary songwriter from Okfuskee County, Oklahoma, is introduced to every American child by way of his folk anthem “This Land Is Your Land.” But for gatekeepers of the arts, Guthrie is much more: All of his work—every song, every article, every poem—is good and honest and true, the gospel according to Woody. What other justification is there for the release of this deservedly long-lost novel?
The left-wing stranglehold on academia.Mar 25, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 27 • By MARK BAUERLEIN
Neil Gross is a sociologist at the University of British Columbia who previously held posts at the University of Southern California and Harvard, has a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, and received undergraduate training at Berkeley. He edits Sociological Theory and has written a book on the liberal philosopher Richard Rorty.
PBS’s well-feathered nest.Oct 22, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 06 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
The mini-storm over Mitt Romney, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Big Bird pitted two visions of the show’s finances against one another. Mitt Romney claimed he’d cut funding so that Sesame Street would have to air commercials. Big Bird defenders imagined a world in which a lack of federal money would put Big Bird out of business.
10:24 AM, Oct 9, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
In a new television ad, the Obama campaign mocks Mitt Romney’s promise to end the federal subsidy to PBS:
1:25 AM, Jan 25, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Does liberalism embody the military virtues? Is martial virtue the highest stage of progressivism?
President Obama wants us to think so.