April 14, 2012

The Soft Middle of Francois Hollande

Steven Erlanger, New York Times

AP Photo

Even after a precampaign diet last year — less wine, less cheese and especially less chocolate — François Hollande, the Socialist who is currently favored to become the next president of France, still has a soft face and looks slightly sloppy in his medium-gray suits. He used to be referred to as “Flanby,” after a brand of wobbly caramel pudding, just one of a string of insulting nicknames for a convivial man considered always at the second rank of politics. He has been called “a living marshmallow” and “Mr. Little Jokes,” and just last year, Martine Aubry, the head of the Socialist Party, described him as a couille molle, a nasty way of saying he has no guts. Recently, a frustrated Nicolas Sarkozy, fighting hard to...

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