Is Emmanuel Macron really this wonderful? Who is?

Photo: Reuters/Pool/Peter Dejong

The new president of France, Emmanuel Macron, is getting rave reviews. Here’s a passage worth reading:

[The President] has a magnetic personality and exudes positive energy, which is infectious to those around him. He has an unparalleled ability to communicate with people, whether he is speaking to a room of three or an arena of 30,000. He has built great relationships throughout his life and treats everyone with respect. He is brilliant with a great sense of humor . . . and an amazing ability to make people feel special and aspire to be more than even they thought possible.

Sounds like a great guy, right? But take a close look and you’ll see that it’s meaningless. Let’s highlight the weasel words that you can’t measure.

[The President] has a magnetic personality and exudes positive energy, which is infectious to those around him. He has an unparalleled ability to communicate with people, whether he is speaking to a room of three or an arena of 30,000. He has built great relationships throughout his life and treats everyone with respect. He is brilliant with a great sense of humor . . . and an amazing ability to make people feel special and aspire to be more than even they thought possible.

This passage actually says nothing of substance about Macron.

In fact, it’s not Macron who’s this great

I misled you. I apologize for that.

This is not actually a statement about Macron. In fact, it’s a statement about President Donald Trump, contributed by spokesperson Hope Hicks for an article in the Washington Post called “Snubs and slights are part of the job in Trump’s White House.”

Read it again, with Trump in mind. Do you feel any differently about it now? Perhaps you’re skeptical, whereas when you thought it referred to Macron you were ready to accept it.

It is difficult to argue whether Trump has a magnetic personality or exudes positive energy. He does communicate well, he has many relationships, and I’m sure he does make some people feel special. It’s objectively false that he treats everyone with respect, but other than that, you can’t prove or disprove this.

It’s fluff.

I could tell you this statement was about Barack Obama, Paul Ryan, Elon Musk, George Clooney, LeBron James, Hillary Clinton (if I changed a few gendered pronouns), or just about anybody else perceived as a leader. It would make you feel good. And you would have no way of verifying or disproving it.

Be skeptical of statements about personality in non-fiction. Their emotional weight is effective, but they are subjective and squishy. Without accompanying facts, they are meaningless.

3 responses to “Is Emmanuel Macron really this wonderful? Who is?

  1. Aha! I knew it. I was onto your little game right away. Mainly because it sounds like it was dictated by Trump himself, with all of the over-the-top hubris cleverly disguised as someone else’s flattery. It may not be verifiable, and I can’t prove or disprove it, but it smell of it is unmistakable. It is pure Trumpshit.

  2. Macron himself is a masterclass in reframing, in finding electorally-acceptable terms for the old ideas the electorate thinks it is rejecting without actually changing any of those ideas. I described his win as the Socialist Front defeating the National Front — if you look at his policies rather than his rhetoric, he is still the same Finance Minister in the outgoing Socialist government he was before supposedly leaving to start his own “centrist” party.

    I think he is still the protégé of the outgoing Socialist President François Hollande, who, faced with certain defeat should he try for a second term and knowing no other Socialist Party candidate could win either, has schooled his own Medvedev to be his dummy placeholder.

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