It all started coming apart in December, when a French journalist came across a 12-year-old audiotape of Cahuzac whining about what a "pain in the a--" it was for him to have to make trips to Switzerland to sign off on banking matters. After much stonewalling, a media denial tour and threats of a libel lawsuit against the media outlet that revealed the information, Cahuzac eventually resigned and issued a statement in which he apologized to Hollande and the French people, adding, "I fought an internal struggle to try to resolve the conflict between the allegiance to truth, which I failed to uphold, and the desire to fulfill the missions entrusted to me -- and especially the last one, which I could not carry out."
Cahuzac's failure wasn't his inability to see the 75 percent super-tax through to fruition, but rather his insistence that other French citizens earning the same kind of money pay the sort of exorbitant taxes that he had taken extraordinary measures to avoid himself.
Predictably, the Cahuzac incident has pummeled Hollande's popularity. His approval rating has fallen to 26 percent -- lower than any other modern French president at this point in his mandate. A Harris Interactive poll found that 86 percent of French, regardless of ideology, consider the Cahuzac affair a serious matter. Hollande's prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, is trying to turn the tide and restore some sense of confidence by demanding that government members publicly disclose the value of all of their accounts and holdings -- foreign and domestic -- for public scrutiny.
It's hard to imagine that seeing the detailed wealth of the "gauche caviar" in all its glory will do much to restore the trust of a French public who thought they were voting for "Mr. Normal" and someone much more like them than his predecessor, Nicolas "Bling-Bling" Sarkozy.
It's not easy being Socialist and an elite. Maybe these hybrids should choose one category or the other rather than living a lie that they're constantly trying to make everyone believe.