If this “president of France” thing doesn’t work out, he’d be a strong candidate for governor of a blue state here in the U.S. based on this.

In fact, as things stand, the Democratic Party might be in need of a presidential nominee in 2024. A surly Frenchman would be at least as likely to win a national election in the U.S. as Kamala Harris would, no?

The outrage in France over Macron’s comments is only partly a reaction to the sentiment expressed. It’s also a function of his particular choice of words, which were unusually vulgar for a high French official. People were so shocked, in fact, that the French parliament *halted debate on a bill* that would make vaccine passports mandatory starting on January 15 as the news of what he said spread.

“I really want to piss them off, and we’ll carry on doing this – to the end,” he told Le Parisien newspaper…

In his interview with Le Parisien on Tuesday, Mr Macron used the vulgar term emmerder to say how he wanted to stir up the unvaccinated. He would not “vaccinate by force” the remaining five million who had not had a dose, but hoped to encourage people to get the vaccines by “limiting as much as possible their access to activities in social life”.

“I won’t send [unvaccinated people] to prison,” he said. “So we need to tell them, from 15 January, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant. You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema.”

That wasn’t all he said. At another point he accused the unvaccinated of being “no longer citizens,” by which I assume he meant that they haven’t carried out their duty to their community by getting vaccinated to help slow the spread. But a national leader drawing lines around citizenship, even just to make a rhetorical point, is highly inflammatory stuff.

Currently France requires proof of vaccination or a recent negative test in order to access public spaces. Once the bill under debate passes, the testing alternative will be eliminated. It’s vaccination or bust for those who haven’t had their shots, which is a hard case to make during the current wave. A few days ago I wrote about why Omicron is different from previous strains of the virus despite the best efforts of restrictionists and anti-restrictionists to pretend otherwise. That logic applies to vaccine mandates too. Now that we’re faced with a variant that can infect even the triple-vaxxed, mandating that the unvaccinated be excluded from public space makes less sense. There might be an outbreak at a theater or a restaurant even if everyone inside is vaxxed and boosted. Vaccination is no longer a major hedge against transmission, so why require it?

There’s only one argument for doing so that doesn’t boil down to “it’s for your own good,” namely, hospital capacity. The more unvaxxed there are, the more severe cases resulting from Omicron a country should expect. And that’s a legit concern at the moment in France, where hospitalizations have reached their highest level since May. But even so, the dynamics of Omicron seem more like a major flu outbreak than a wave of COVID, with few people needing ICU care. Would France mandate flu shots for everyone who wants to dine out or catch a movie during a flu wave?

Local reaction to Macron’s comments was swift and sharp. “I’m in favor of the vaccine pass but I cannot back a text whose objective is to ‘piss off’ the French,” said the leader of one right-wing party. Another member told a French news outlet, “Emmanuel Macron says he has learned to love the French, but it seems he especially likes to despise them. We can encourage vaccination without insulting anyone or pushing them to radicalization.” The far right and far left also piled on, with Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon tearing into Macron. “It’s clear the vaccine pass is a collective punishment against individual liberties,” said Melenchon, a radical lefty. Imagine a leftist in the U.S. objecting to a strict vaccine passport.

As I say, some of the uproar is due to Macron’s lack of decorum. The word he used in the interview to describe what he wanted to do to the unvaccinated, emmerder, is apparently profane, somewhat more offensive in French than “piss off” is in English. One French news outlet translates the verb as “to sh*t on.” In fact, his choice of words was so shocking that some observers believe he did it deliberately, suspecting that most French voters would take his side on it. Nearly 90 percent of those over age 12 are vaccinated there, a huge share in a country that’s famously been skeptical of vaccines in the past. “Polls show a large majority of French voters are growing increasingly frustrated with the pandemic and back the vaccine pass as an effective means to end it,” the Guardian reported, noting that anti-vaxxers tend to oppose Macron anyway. Maybe the silent supermajority, having acquiesced in getting their shots, will be receptive to seeing Macron be brusque with the refuseniks.

Something similar is playing out in Australia today. Novak Djokovic, the world’s greatest tennis player, is preparing to play in the Australian Open despite being unvaxxed. He claimed a medical exemption from the country’s vaccine mandate rules for visitors, something the national tennis authority there seems prepared to grant — but which the public is not.

Before the visa snafu, the unexplained decision to grant a medical exemption to one of the world’s fittest men provoked widespread anger in the nation.

Stephen Parnis, a former vice president of the Australian Medical Association, wrote on Twitter: “I don’t care how good a tennis player he is. If he’s refusing to get vaccinated, he shouldn’t be allowed in… If this exemption is true, it sends an appalling message to millions seeking to reduce [the COVID] risk to themselves and others.”

The deputy Victorian Liberal leader, lawmaker David Southwick, fumed in his own tweet: “What a disgrace! We have had 6 lockdowns—schools and small businesses closed, funerals and weddings told not to go ahead, families separated for months on end and now a tennis star gets an exemption… A kick in the guts to every Victorian.”

Macron is expecting the same reaction among French voters to his hardline stance against the unvaccinated, beginning with the new vaccine passport bill. They got the jab so that they could enjoy a semblance of normalcy. Why should those who refused, like Novak Djokovic, be allowed to do so anyway?

Here’s Jen Psaki at today’s White House briefing, refusing an invitation to “piss off” the unvaxxed. Exit question: Isn’t Biden’s employer vaccine mandate more burdensome to the unvaccinated than France’s vaccine passport rules?

You Might Like
Learn more about RevenueStripe...