Cultural Caviar

A Pardon for M. Fillon

March 18, 2017

M. Fillon has been replaced as favorite by Emmanuel Macron, who has the face of an intelligent shark and whose voice, when he tries to play the role of passionate demagogue, is enough to shatter glass. For some reason his voice, when he tries a crescendo, reminds me of that of Nadine Gordimer, the Nobel Prize winner in literature: She sounded like a bird scraping its beak down a windowpane.

I try, therefore, to make excuses for M. Fillon. His sin was a venial one; they are all at it, I tell myself, whoever they may be defined as being. And the man with the best policies is still the man with the best policies.

What moral bearing does the argument have that he is no worse than the others who seek the same office? When I am caught speeding, I cannot argue in my defense that many others do the same without being caught and suffering no penalty, and that therefore I should suffer none. It is hypocritical, no doubt, for M. Fillon to attack the state whose finances he has exploited (I suppose he could in theory argue that public money should be used to pay politicians’ spouses but not the unemployed or the sick, yet this would not increase his standing very much); but is his hypocrisy any worse than that of the leftists who argue for equality and live like elites—in other words, are egalitarian in everything except their lives?

When considering who to vote for, should we bear in mind what Hamlet said to Polonius:

Use every man after his desert, and who should ’scape whipping?

Or should we, on the other hand, demand of our politicians that they are like Caesar’s wife—above suspicion? Or something in between the two?

If the latter, we need what we most lack: judgment. The easiest is to throw up one’s hands in despair and conclude that all politics is a conspiracy against the electorate.

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