EDITORIAL: Mon Dieu! President Obama of France


A month out of the White House, and Barack Obama is still looking for work. Fortunately, there may be a France in his future. A group of merry pranksters in Paris is circulating a petition to get him on the ballot as a candidate for president in the round of elections beginning in April.

He may get back in the White House, after all, if only as a state visitor.

Donald Trump has set the excitable left-wing millions in Europe in hysterical flutter, just like here at home, and hard times can make a Frenchman drink California wine. So maybe an American president is not so far-fetched. Paris walls and lamp posts have been plastered with hundreds of posters proclaiming “Obama17.”

Discarding the burdens of the most important office in the world has clearly been good for him, and the face peering from the poster is handsome, cheerful and young. Or it may be an old photograph. He still has dark hair, and trading the most important office on the globe for the 12th most important office on the globe might keep it that way.

The merry pranksters of Paris have put up a website (obama2017.fr), inviting Frenchmen to make the “radical choice” of signing a petition asking (just who is not clear) that the name of the 44th president of the United States be put on the ballot as a candidate for president of France. One of the four pranksters who organized the caper tells the London Independent that the idea came from a conversation with friends.

“We decided that we didn’t want to vote for any of the candidates in this election, and that it has been the same for the past few elections. We are fed up with voting against people, rather than for someone we actually support, so we thought it would be ingenious to give the power to Obama, since he’s now available.”

Some of that sounds familiar to an American voter, and naturally the first question the skeptics have is whether this is serious, or just a caper. “We want people to wake up in the morning and rather than see our usual candidates,” says one of the pranksters, “rejoice in seeing Obama’s face on the 500 posters on the streets of Paris.”

It’s not altogether for the love of Barack. The pranksters are terrified of Marine Le Pen, whose poll numbers keep climbing in face of skepticism, fear, loathing and dread as election day approaches.

Some of these skeptics of little faith or imagination point out that Mr. Obama is not French, probably has never eaten a snail, is not known to speak the language, or if he does, he does not speak it properly because no one but a Frenchman can. But the former president now lives within a stone’s throw of the French Embassy, though if he does feel an urge to throw a stone he should be careful. The neighborhood is crawling with security and closed streets because he lives in it.

If he is elected — who can doubt it? — he could just walk up the street, slip through a hole in the back fence, to be sworn in. He could conduct the office on his laptop, or even his smart phone.

And who can say he is not already French? Even now someone is working on his birth certificate. He was born in Marseille, as everybody knows.


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