Je suis votre chef!
Emmanuel Macron claims that he has heard the complaints about his arrogance and is prepared to change his style in order to govern more effectively. No change is discernible, however, in his refusal to accept Gérard Collomb’s resignation as Minister of the Interior.
This latest internal kerfuffle is reminiscent of the dismissal of General de Villiers in the first months of Macron’s presidency. The general had had the temerity to dispute Macron’s military budget in public. “Je suis votre chef,” declared the young president to the venerable general. At the time I thought Macron was right to o as he did. He was new and untested and had to show everyone that he was in charge and would not be cowed by age or experience. I discounted the desire to humiliate.
In the case of Collomb, however, that desire seems paramount. Collomb committed lès-majesté by alluding to the president’s arrogance and isolation. He then repeated the offense by prematurely announcing his desire to return to Lyon to run for mayor. He also shifted responsibility for any fault in the Benalla affair to the Elysée. And then, yesterday, he put the cherry on the sundae by submitting his resignation.
To which Macron gave la réponse romaine: a firm No that resounded like a slap in the face. Collomb has not been particularly effective at Interior. Macron could have let him go. But in the wake of the Hulot resignation, this would have looked a little too much like the rats leaving a sinking ship–an appearance that has not really been altered by forcing Collomb to remain, however.
Hulot had the chutzpah to announce his resignation on the radio without telling anyone. Collomb made the mistake of adhering to the traditional formality of submitting a resignation letter, never expecting that when it came to chutzpah, the president himself could not be outdone. So now this Macroniste de la première heure will remain a prisoner at Place Beauvau until the emperor is ready to throw him to the lions.
Coming in the same week as Macron’s declaration that he is a changed man, this embastillement of le premier flic de France suggests that Manuel Valls’ decision to flee to Barcelona is perhaps the only way for a French politician to retain his freedom of movement.