PARIS — Put any two Americans abroad (of a particular political bent — or not?) in the same room, and they'll try at first to avoid the elephant in said room. It won't last. The time has come to count down the days and hours to Friday's inauguration of a bad-New-York-joke-turned-leader-of-the-free-world. An old Colorado friend visiting last night in Paris looked for some cold winter comfort: It's not just us!
No, indeed, Donald Trump is not alone in riding a worldwide wave of disgust to upend certain accepted standards about both common decency and the management of complicated international relations. But that provides anything but comfort.
Here in France, the face of that disgust is named Marine Le Pen. Trump's calling NATO "obsolete" and urging other countries to follow Britain and leave the EU came as a veritable shock to Europe. But Le Pen, a far-right leader vying to become the next French president, already has a plan to follow Trump's lead. Paris business daily Les Echos reports that Le Pen wants a national referendum to pull France out of the Eurozone — which would be the next major domino to fall in a crumbling world order.
Last Friday, a news flash came across the French press: Le Pen had been spotted in Trump Tower. The dominos, it seemed, were lining up indeed. Hours later, however, a Trump spokesman denied that the president-elect, or anyone from his team, had met with the French visitors. Poor Marine Le Pen had come all that way and was confined to stay in the lobby. Another bad New York joke, and finally, a bit of comfort on a cold Parisian morning.