This was not the stuff of Olympian maneuvering but rather of base human machinations, in Mr. Hollande’s view.
Did the young Minister of the Economy who had been Mr. Hollande’s protégé stab the older man in the back, then leap over his carcass to gain the presidency? Did he betray the seasoned politician to whom he owed so much? Those central questions have been a subtext in French politics since Mr. Macron was elected a year ago. Mr. Hollande all but answers yes.
“Always, that style of denying the plain evidence with a smile,” Mr. Hollande comments with barely disguised bitterness after Mr. Macron has denied he will be a candidate. That denial followed the triumphalist kickoff rally in July 2016 at which his supporters shouted “Macron, President!” almost for the first time.
“In front of me, Emmanuel Macron protested his good faith, and his faithfulness,” Mr. Hollande writes, describing a moment when he was forced to upbraid his protégé for having displayed his ambition. “Was he sincere when he thought that his adventure was limited in time, and that it would eventually end, to serve, finally, my own candidacy?”
The ex-president doesn’t answer the question, but he hardly needs to.
“Did he feel guilty about something?” Mr. Hollande asks about the moment he handed over power to Mr. Macron a year ago at the Élysée Palace. “As though the order of things, and of human relations, had been unduly reversed.”
And Mr. Hollande wickedly sums up both the limits and potential of Mr. Macron’s outlook, gleaned when the younger man was his counselor at the presidency.
“He is certain that reality graciously bends to his will as soon as he expresses it.”
The ex-president adopts the critique of Mr. Macron’s detractors on the left when he writes in his book that “my government reduced inequality, while this one is deepening it.”