The Corner


Merci, Monsieur le Président

French president Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée Palace in Paris (Philippe Wojazer / Reuters)

As my colleagues like to point out, Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, is not a conservative. Nevertheless, he does things that ought to earn the approval — and even the gratitude — of conservatives. Did you note two items in recent days?

Here is a report from the BBC:

France’s National Assembly has overwhelmingly backed President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial rail reforms.

In a blow to the country’s unions, French MPs voted 452 to 80 in favour of the bill overhauling the country’s state rail company SNCF.

The bill marks the biggest change to the company since rail nationalisation in the 1930s.

Rail reform is a key plank in Mr Macron’s efforts to change the economy.

This was an incredibly difficult, and nervy, undertaking. In The Spectator, Jonathan Miller wrote a piece under the heading “Macron’s defeat of the railway unions is as historic as Thatcher’s victory over Scargill.” (Arthur Scargill, you recall, was the boss of the British mineworkers.)

In other news, Macron was attending a ceremony related to World War II. A teenager said to him, “Ça va, Manu?” (Macron’s nickname). Macron rebuked him, reminding the boy that it was a solemn occasion and saying that he should address him as “monsieur le président de la République” or (simply) “monsieur.”

The poor boy apologized, saying, “Sorry, monsieur le président.” (To read a news story, go here.)

Many people thought that Macron was acting high and mighty. Others might think he was acting like an adult, something odd in our times. What Macron did was not conservative in a present-politics sense, but it was very conservative in an older, and timeless, sense.

Most Popular


An Idea for Student Loans: Get Rid of Them

Here is a three-part plan for something practical the federal government could do to relieve college-loan debt. Step 1: The federal government should stop making college loans itself and cease guaranteeing any such loans. Step 2: It should prohibit educational lending by federally regulated financial institutions ... Read More

A Reckoning Is in Store for Democrats

The crisis of the Democrats is becoming more evident each week. Those of us who have been loudly predicting for years that the Russian-collusion argument would be exposed as a defamatory farce, and that the authors of it would eventually pay for it, are bemused at the fallback position of the Trump-haters: that ... Read More
White House


Some of you will be familiar with a lefty, partisan Democratic organization called MoveOn, formerly MoveOn.Org. It was founded during an investigation into President Bill Clinton’s shenanigans (which were not, Democratic mythology notwithstanding, strictly sexual in nature) and argued that it was time for the ... Read More

Why ‘Stop Sanders’?

'Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?” T. S. Eliot asked. “Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” And where is the intelligence we have lost in cleverness? Cleverness is the plague of our political classes, an influenza of the intellect. The consultants are always trying to ... Read More