Paul Greenberg

"I'm so happy!" cried one celebrant, 60-year-old Ghylaine Lambrecht, who remembered celebrating the triumph of Socialist president Francois Mitterand at the same site in 1981. M. Mitterand's was going to be a triumphant reign, too. It wasn't. But what else could you expect from a politician who got his start with the Vichy regime? (Socialists and fascists have this interesting history of collaboration, as in National Socialism. Why should that be? Their common worship of the all-bountiful State, from which all blessings flow?)

Here and there in dispatches from Paris, some spoilsport might be quoted as warning that "we're the new Greeks." Beware French presidents bearing gifts and all that. But who listens? Happy Days Are Here Again!

"It's magic!" cried a voice in the crowd -- that of Violaine Chenais, who's 19 and sounds like it. "I think Francois Hollande is not perfect," she opined, "but it's clear France thinks it's time to give the left a chance. We're going to celebrate with drink and hopefully some dancing."

Why not? It's always possible M. Hollande will rise above his promises. Reality does have this way of sobering up some politicians, the way hitting a brick wall might wake up the driver of a speeding Citroen.

But till then, let's party! "O brave new world," young Miranda proclaims at the end of The Tempest, "that has such people in it!" Not referenced as often is old Prospero's response: " 'Tis new to thee." For he knows the ways of this brave new world. He's seen it before.

Meanwhile, the real winner of the presidential election waits her turn. Marine Le Pen's revitalized, reborn and reconstructed National Front took an impressive 18 percent of the vote in the first round. Having sat out the run-off, now she bides her time and waits for reality to dawn. As it has a way of doing.

The moral of the story: Plus ca change.... The more things change, the more France remains the same.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.