Immediately after Emmanuel Macron was elected president of France in May 2017, progressive Americans fairly swooned with envy. If only they could have a president like M. Macron: young, handsome, progressive, cosmopolitan, polished, globally minded and dedicated to the European Union’s dream of uniting all of Europe into a single state! And Mrs. May across the Channel: not nearly so charismatic, rather bland in fact, but—as time passed especially—how committed, in her ladylike way, to understanding the plight of Brussels from whom the United Kingdom had been bloodily hacked away! How eager to see Brexit sympathetically, through their own eyes—unlike the great Cyclops across the ocean with his one great eye fixed on the United States and the nation’s interests, the ungentlemanly bully who humiliated the PM in her own country on his very first visit there, while poised to destroy his own country by his untutored but aggressive ineptitude! Oh, woe is America, woe are Americans! . . .
Look now: As 2018 expires, the Emperor Emmanuel has an approval rating of 21 percent, compared with Trump’s 46 or 47; while Theresa May wrecked her premiership early on by the botched election she called in 2017 to enhance her majority and ensure the success of her mandate to deliver Brexit and restore her legal and political sovereignty at home and abroad, thus allowing the country to find her own way and make her political and economic fortunes out in the great world. Today, May has virtually everyone in Westminster hard against her for having signed an agreement with Jean-Claude Juncker & Co. that, if ratified by Parliament in the first half of December, would leave the U.K. more closely tied to the E.U. than before, and with virtually no hope of escape—ever. As of the moment, her plan is nearly certain to be voted down in Parliament; a vote of no confidence immediately thereafter is highly probable. As for the new Napoleon, his capital city is subject to violent riots by the gilets-jaunes: périphérique (from beyond Paris) middle- and working-class protesters against the steep increase in diesel prices His Majesty has imposed on the country with the aim of reducing fuel consumption to save the planet—and hence driving, hence the mobility of Frenchmen driven first out of Paris center, next the banlieues (currently the territory of Muslim immigrants), and into the périphérie from where they are forced to commute by car. The crisis follows a previous one over the summer, when an Algerian serving as Napoleon’s bodyguard beat up a leftist student on video, with hardly more than a slap on the wrist from the Emperor.
Meanwhile, across the water, the oafish ogreish political bungler has in less than two years passed a major tax cut, appointed two conservative justices to the Supreme Court, engaged in a rapprochement with North Korea, won what must be described as at least a draw with the opposition in the midterm elections, renovated NAFTA, and, most recently, arranged a truce in the Sino-American trade war with President Xi. No wonder Boris Johnson was overheard to suggest last year that, were Donald Trump in charge of Brexit, Britain would be happily out of the E.U. by now. If only the President were a drinker, he might, as a gesture of international goodwill, send a cask of his favorite whisky to Napoleon and the (more than justifiably) beleaguered Mrs. May.