Continued analysis and review of Valérie Trierweiler’s book Merci pour ce moment.
Find Part One – Analysis of Merci pour ce moment
As a reminder, here is the question that pinpoints the problem of this review of the new book, already a best-seller, of the former First Lady of France Valérie Trierweiler:
What did Valérie Trierweiler want to say in her book? What is the originality of such a book in the political life of theFifth Republic since 1958?
The second part of the analysis still follows the order of the book; it is composed of three axes:
- Giving the truth about controversies thanks to Merci pour ce moment
- The last moments of a disillusioned First Lady
- Scope of the book Merci pour ce moment
Will Nicolas Sarkozy be back in 2017? Valerie Trierweiler says yes! For her, he needs his revenge.
Did France Hollande voluntarily make an affront by not respecting the good customs during the handover? Valerie Trierweiler does not answer. And to add,“Besides, he turns the heels without waiting for me either…”
If it scratches Michel Rocard, who“monopolizes the floor, as usual,” it is rather the portrait of Hollande that interests the reader. The president is described as a man who seeks to build an exceptional destiny, beyond the common man. This description is to be contrasted with the image of a “normal president” that François Hollande wanted to build for himself throughout his campaign and presidency. This desire to have a destiny is linked for Trierweiler to the fear of death:“He refuses to talk about death, he does not know how to do with the dying or with the seriously ill.“
Valerie Trierweiler then talks about the death of François Hollande’s mother, and the difficult place she is trying to find.
—The letter carrier Ségolène Royal
It is about the presidential election in 2007. The socialist primaries began in 2005, when Ségolène Royal announced her candidacy in… Paris Match, where Valérie Trierweiler is engaged then her rival. Ségolène Royal is determined to represent the PS for the election, despite what François Hollande thought at first.“Nothing stops Ségolène Royal. Her ambition and energy are increased tenfold by her anger and suffering in the face of the couple difficulties.“
However, for political reasons, Royal and Hollande prefer to be displayed together. It is to give the image of a stable and happy couple, ideal for political communication, and the situation most appreciated by voters, as the history of theFifth Republic has shown. To be a stable couple seems the ideal model for a political candidate, the most reassuring. At that time, the affair between Hollande and Trierweiler, although only unofficial, did exist.
What is worth these words to the author:“I do not want to participate in the media lie of the united couple that supports in the race to the Élysée. I do not want to participate in the media lie of the united couple who support each other in the race to the Elysée Palace,” that Ségolène Royal and François Hollande form.
However, the couple united in the eyes of the media is not as much in private according to Valerie Trierweiler, which refers to the“dissension between the party and the campaign team, between her and him. Ségolène Royale is not credible enough or competent enough for François Hollande:“How many times does François repeat to me that she does not have the level?“
—How François Hollande wants to catch up with Valérie Trierweiler
Valerie Trierweiler tells how François Hollande tried to get her back, sending her regular texts full of promises.
Notably during the commemoration of the D-Day:“Between his dinner with Barack Obama and his dinner with Vladimir Putin, he finds time to write me a new text message”. What strikes the reader is this interweaving of his public, official life with his private life, which seems to be as much a diplomatic imperative as government relations.
—The Hollande-Royal-Trierweiler trio
After recounting the episode of DSK’s arrest, Valérie Trierweiler recounts the socialist primaries before the 2012 election. While the press rejoices in the confrontation between Hollande and Royal for the nomination, the author makes a statement that is both cryptic and shocking:“I know what Ségolène Royal asked in exchange for her support, including financially, and I have no doubt that she won her case.
Without dwelling on the stakes of this pact, the irony of his tweets, once understood only by a few, can be brought to light:“I write a tweet to congratulate her on “her sincere and disinterested rallying”. My irony is only understandable by a small circle of insiders.“It is a private joke, but it shows how the political world can have its codes, and how apparently harmless public statements can reveal a double meaning. The public discourse, whose duplicity we did not suspect, proposes two lines of interpretation, one of which is only authorized for a restricted and closed political world. —About these private jokes, Valerie Trierweiler will write later about Hollande in the book:“he addressed me in public messages that only I could understand“.
An anecdote about a film of the success of the SP, in which does not appear Ségolène Royal – which is interpreted as the will of Valerie Trierweiler – , shows the overinterpretation of the media, the“crazy machine,” as she calls them.
Valerie Trierweiler then acknowledges being literally under the influence of hysteria, under the effect of” uncontrollable emotional excesses”, in a context of general excitement:“it is physically impossible for me to see them both hand in hand on stage“.
These exacerbated feelings are always fueled by a jealousy towards Ségolène Royal. It is all about political image, and each political figure seems to try to manipulate as much as possible the memory that will remain of the events, the strong image that will mark.
Trierweiler is also caught up in this game:“I know she refuses to shake my hand. I decide to corner her. I wait for her to return to her seat. I signal to a few photographers and I walk straight towards her. I give her a shot … at the Royal“.
Everything is a strategic part of politics, of which the media are both the vectors and the tools.
—“not fun, the Massonneau family“
This statement addressed to Valerie Trierweiler about her family is very badly felt. It is from this anecdote that Trierweiler develops what has most marked the release of the book, Thank you for this moment, and which has had the most repercussion in the press. It is the disdain shown by François Hollande, especially for the little people.
Valerie Trierweiler finishes her ex-husband in two sentences that have caused a shock in the opinion:
“He presented himself as the man who does not like the rich. In reality, the President does not like the poor. He, the man of the left, says in private “the toothless”, very proud of his line of humor.“
It is undoubtedly as a result of these sentences in particular that two days after the release of Merci pour ce moment, a survey indicates that 37% of French people believe that book changes “badly” the image they have of the head of state.
—A reputation to keep
In a more unpredictable way, a criticism is made against Wikipedia, which would continue to peddle a rumor about a great inheritance received by Valerie Trierweiler:“the persistent rumor still persists and is still posted on Wikipedia. Beyond the questioning of the principle of Wikipedia, where information delivered to the use and manipulation of the public, can make a place sometimes without foundation, it is still from Valerie Trierweiler a more general criticism of the media and rumors, to the importance of a reputation.
“Apart from Laurent Fabius, it does not take an expert to understand that most of the new ministers do not have the level.“This apparently gratuitous comment – or one without any real justification except that this judgment seems to be supported by the press – is nevertheless sufficiently acerbic to be noted.
After recounting her trip to the United States with François Hollande, she tells how the book La Fronde use is, according to her, only the result of a journalist who betrayed her trust and distorted her words.
There followed a campaign of denigration, which Valerie Trierweiler herself analyzes in a judgment that is increasingly shared by both observers and celebrities themselves:“Connected societies promote what American researchers call an “epidemic of denigration” and a “culture of humiliation .“
The First Ladies of the world have in common that they suffer three types of criticism each time, which Valerie Trierweiler summarizes as follows:
- meddling in their husband’s affairs,
- of having ambition for two
- and spending public money improperly
—Fame versus happiness
François Hollande is described as an ambitious man, who seeks power, who seeks the most honorary position.
In addition to revealing a comment that could prove hurtful to his second minister in the order of importance in the government, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the dialogue that Valérie Trierweiler then reports showing the trap in which Hollande has trapped himself, or the choice he has made, in obtaining the glorious position of president – and yet, struck by unpopularity – , at the price of his happiness:
“he said to me, while we were talking about Fabius:
—It is terrible for him, he missed his life.
—Why do you say that?
—Because he never became president.
—But that does not mean that he missed his life. He seems happy in what he does and with his partner. And you, are you happy?
This dialogue, reported in the excerpts of the Figaro, is significant of a presidential office often idealized and noble, but which could throughout theFifth Republic have been only the object of selfish ambitions, men eager to succeed.
Throughout the story, Valérie Trierweiler gave examples of her commitment to associations or political causes, such as her fight to free the hostages of Boko Haram, or her support for disabled children. Disability was also the question of a sentence uttered by Hollande, which Valérie Trierweiler found astonishing:“How did you find Croizon? —I do not like handicapped people who trade in their handicap.“
—Sovereign public opinion
Because of a drop in popularity, the president gave up on resuming a vacation, which was nevertheless studious.
Valerie Trierweiler sees the truth in the words of a close friend: “I have the impression that his love is linked to his popularity rating”. It is still the association of feelings and cold administration that strikes in this formula. Love seems to be only a means to the service of the president’s policy.
The role of the public opinion is striking. The quality of this passage of Valerie Trierweiler’s book is to reveal the opposite of what politicians try to impose as an image: opinion polls and surveys affect them. We are indeed far from those who intend to lead a policy regardless of opinions; from those who claim to lead without worrying about polls, from those who declare to maintain a line and not to be governed or slowed down by the reins of unpopularity.
Public opinion seems to matter on two levels:
- A first public level, because it constrains political life, it sets out paths in the conduct of public affairs.
- But also a second level, more hidden and more intimate, that of the person of the political figure, in this case the president. It is indeed his pride, his self-esteem, that is at stake: the poll seems to have a real weight in this self-image that the president has, which, of course, is not revealed in public, but has almost more important repercussions:“he values his popularity as the apple of his eye“.
She adds a few pages later, both for herself and for others:“those who will tell you they are indifferent to unpopularity are lying”. (page 364)
François Hollande had early in mind the hypothesis of taking Manuel Valls as prime minister. But this choice is not without consequences, and the book of Valerie Trierweiler has the merit of reminding us that the President always has in mind the future elections. “If in 2017, you are in a state of weakness, he will require primaries to run.”Beyond a rivalry on the ideological, political and economic view, it is also a political and strategic issue for a personal future.
It is interesting to see how this ambiguous relationship between the President and the Prime Minister has marked theFifth Republic: it is indeed an opportunity to remember Pompidou, Prime Minister who became President, as well as Chirac, etc.
—The end of the story of a committed, jealous and deceived woman
After evoking the atmosphere of the crowd baths, then the Cahuzac affair, Valerie Trierweiler evokes her actions for associations, and those of her office, whose usefulness she assures despite what the opinion wanted to hear:“If the associations have always seen the usefulness of my role, the opinion has not done me any favors.“.
The Leonarda affair – in which a pupil was sought during a school outing only to be expelled with her family – shows the President’s constant concern for conciliation, which seems hesitant, unable to decide.
Valerie Trierweiler returns to his jealousy, through the event of Nelson Mandela’s funeral, and by contrast, after his breakup on the many SMS she receives daily:“I counted twenty-nine SMS yesterday.
The president’s confession about the pain he encountered in being a couple in politics with Ségolène Royal seems to echo the same suffering that Valérie Trierweiler describes on her journey in Merci pour ce moment. François Hollande“confides in her suffering to have shared this public life, to have been several times erased in favor of the mother of his children.“And summarized by these words that had been addressed to him:“Hello, Mr. Royal!“.
The formula is as simple as it is effective in its style to express how Hollande existed at that moment only through his wife, and makes us think of the feeling of satisfaction that could represent in return the election of François Hollande in 2012 after the failure of 2007.
For the reader, it is to guess that part of the suffering expressed by Valerie Trierweiler was in the same way experienced by François Hollande. Valerie Trierweiler traces this pain to the appointment of Ségolène Royal as a minister of Mitterrand, while the name of François Hollande was ruled out.
In the end, Valerie Trierweiler will have found satisfaction in having carried the law on marriage for all, to which she gives a key role for the future. She hopes, in her last words, to be loved as much as she has loved.
—A testimony to remember on an episode of the Fifth Republic
To summarize the book Merci pour ce moment, an expression seemed relevant, analysis made by Valerie Trierweiler herself:
“This is the “Hollande paradox”, this man who does not want to share the light, […] in love with a woman who had a job, a past. […] He chose passion. Thus go to the politicians, these proud and strong beings, who want everything and the opposite of everything, because their ambitions have no limits.“.
—The intentions of a loving and wounded author
The general impression that emerges from Merci pour ce moment can be grasped through the prism of a play by Victor Hugo that Valerie Trierweiler quotes in the last pages, Lucretia Borgia, and this word of Lucretia to her husband Don Alphonso:
“You have let the people mock me, you have let them insult me… Who wife protects.”
Lucretia Borgia, Victor Hugo
Valerie Trierweiler recognizes herself in this woman who has suffered the humiliations of the crowd, of public opinion, often unjustly.
She appears as a jealous woman, but especially wounded. The regret is that of not having been loved enough, of having been deceived, lied to, and this in proportion to her love for the president.
Merci pour ce moment has an ambiguous title, at once grateful for the time spent and the pleasures she found there, especially in the game of love, but above all ironic about that brief moment – “moment” – from which she emerged overwhelmed.
The book seems to be the latest act of a calculated revenge – the book was printed in the greatest secrecy in Germany, and Valérie Trierweiler was well aware of the disastrous political consequences it would have for Hollande.
But the desire to restore her own truth, after all the injustices, was stronger, despite the repeated attempts of François Hollande to prevent it, in filigrees throughout the story. At this game, and although once again criticized and insulted for having released this book, Valerie Trierweiler seems to be winning if we consider this poll published at the time of release, which indicates that 53% of French people prefer Trierweiler rather than Hollande.
—The extent of the phenomenon, thank you for this moment
As soon as it was released, Merci pour ce moment was sold out in bookstores, breaking sales records dating back 4 or 5 years.
It is difficult to know if the magnitude of the event was calculated by Valerie Trierweiler, like the case of the tweet. She says she regrets that we only remember the bad passages, this article should have done her justice, since it objectively takes up the whole book, even if the criticism and analysis are the guiding thread.
François Hollande said he was“dismayed” by the book’s release, and although he was reserved to comment, he declared on the sidelines of a NATO council:
The presidential function must be respected. As far as I am concerned, I will never accept that what is the commitment of my entire life, of everything that has been the basis of my political life, my commitments, my responsibilities, the mandates that I have exercised, could be called into question.
Thank you for this moment is published by editions des Arènes, we advise you to buy this book, available for example on Amazon:
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