Marine Le Pen — not normalized

A few days ago, I wrote of Marine Le Pen:

Even if Le Pen trounces Macron in the debate, she’s unlikely to defeat him in the election. . .But Le Pen can achieve much even in defeat. To use the American left’s term, she can be “normalized.”

Actually, I find Le Pen pretty normal for a politician. . .The views Le Pen expresses don’t strike me as abnormal given the situation in France. My concern is that the views she holds may mirror the racist and anti-Semitic views of her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Today, I write to confess error. Marine Le Pen is not normal. The main problem is not her father’s views, which she may or may not share. It is her views — including the ones she has expressed during the current presidential campaign.

Le Pen’s views on Russia are a prime example. Le Pen has advocated an end to sanctions against Russia. She has expressed her approval of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Her relationship with Vladimir Putin closely resembles the one the Democrats impute, without evidence, to President Trump. She met with Putin in Russia, where Putin praised her for representing a “fast-growing element” of European politics.

For her part, Le Pen addressed Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma. She vowed to push for the “blacklists” of targeted Russians — an important sanction against Russia for its aggression — to be abolished.

Le Pen also said that Russia and France should work together to save the world from globalism and Islamic fundamentalism.

Compare Le Pen’s approach to Russia with Trump’s. Candidate Trump did not go to Russia. To my knowledge, he never endorsed the annexation of Crimea or called for the elimination of sanctions on Russia. As president, he has done nothing to remove or loosen the sanctions.

Trump never said the U.S. should work with Russia to save the world from “globalism.” As a candidate, he did suggest that we should cooperate with Russia against ISIS. Standing alone, that’s not a terrible idea. In any case, Trump hasn’t moved to implement such cooperation, as far as we know. Instead, he took military action, albeit very a very small one, against Russia’s client.

Trump’s statements about Russia — that Putin is a strong leader and that he would like to have good relations with Putin if possible — are within the normal range. The first statement is indisputable. The second is a vague expression of aspiration.

Le Pen’s statements are abnormal and ill-advised. Russia is a force for evil in the world and for chaos in Europe. By aligning herself with Putin, Le Pen shows her true colors. Their ugliness rivals those of her father.

On a more trivial but no less abnormal note, Le Pen has advocated the use of two currencies. The franc would be used for France’s “home economy.” The Euro would be used for international trade.

I’m not an economist, but this idea strikes me as wacky, pointless, extremely difficult to implement, and perhaps even more difficult to sustain. The proposal has been roundly criticized, including by the governor of France’s central bank. The fact that the “establishment” doesn’t like the proposal doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad one. However, I fail to see any merit in it. I also thought Le Pen struggled to defend, or even make sense of, the idea during the debate yesterday.

At the end of my post about Le Pen “normalizing” herself, I wrote: “I doubt I could vote for her. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t vote for Macron.” Having learned more about the positions Le Pen has taken in the campaign, my view now is that I’m positive I couldn’t vote for her and might feel compelled to vote for Macron (if eligible to do so).

I’m also convinced, for what little my predictions are worth these days, that Macron will trounce Le Pen.

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