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This wing really has no concept of policy beyond the superficial appearance of strength. It doesn't even have to be effective strength. It's purely a PR position.
This is Bush's base, and it's also how he was allowed to get close enough to the winning post in two elections to be handed the White House. But all countries have it - which is why so many people in the UK still look up to Thatcher, because these lunatics loved her for her ability to pick fights and (supposedly) win them.
I think SR has one failing, which is that she doesn't seem to understand this. If she's playing the consensus card, she will have lost those who lean towards this sector, because they're only interested in bullying and braying, not in talking.
Sarko is perfect for them, because he's someone who's more than willing to live up to their expectations. Le Pen has the hardcore cases, but I'd guess there's enough of an element in the swing-vote middle to be influential.
SR could certainly turn this around, but at this point she's reminding me less of Hillary and more of Obama - someone who's on a 'Why can't we all get along?' mission, which appears bland and spineless.
To win back some of the authoritarians she has to take an aggressive stand on something. Almost anything will do - the important part is the meta-message of appearing to be strong and decisive. Actual policy is secondary for these voters.
I'm hoping she can pull this together. But if she really believes that the main reason people will vote for her is because they like her policies, then to be brutally honest I think she's being very naive.
Over the first months, she was opposing a stern-maternal (some might say school-ma'amish) image to Sarko's tough cop one. With considerable success. But he has now redefined his image as softer, more supposedly "leftie". It's up to Royal to find the response to that, no doubt by bouncing off next weekend's agenda (programme announce, etc). I think it does matter that her programme, after a long period of "listening" to the French in meetings all round the country, should measure up and feel like the product of real listening. Her image will partly be defined by that.
There'll no doubt be more movement. It'll be a running fight.
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