A return to the American presidential campaign, which has been utterly astonishing from beginning to end, culminating in the boisterous billionaire’s victory … a victory nobody saw coming.
On Nov. 8, after the course of a year and a half during which a grotesque campaign played out, Donald Trump was elected president by the American people. The reality TV star and property magnate, who is 70 and has a penchant for using outrageousness as a tool for political seduction, will move into the White House on Jan. 20. It was confirmed in mid-December by the vote of the Electoral College which cast 304 votes for Trump versus 227 for his Democrat adversary Hillary Clinton. The former secretary of state did, however, win the popular vote with a lead of more than 2.8 million votes.
The 45th president of the United States embodies an immense paradox. He has consumed an unprecedented amount of space in the media, so much so that he was able to cut down on television campaign ads. And nobody believed in his candidacy or saw his victory coming, aside from Trump himself, who foretold his win as “Mr. Brexit” just as nobody predicted the outcome of the British referendum to leave the European Union. Few people thought the pale blonde-haired billionaire could become the commander-in-chief of the biggest world power. Trump has not shied away from any provocation, criticizing women, immigrants and Muslims, sparking a trend for xenophobic rhetoric, attracting the support of white supremacists and irreconcilably dividing America.
The world watched stunned as each unexpected event of this presidential race played out. There was the issue of Clinton’s emails, which were investigated in July by the FBI which determined that no criminal charges should be brought, although the candidate was blamed for “gross negligence.” Then the case was reopened once again by the FBI director a week prior to the election. There was the issue of the Democrat candidate’s bout of flu at the beginning of September, which gave rise to declarations from the “alt-right,” an ultra-conservative movement, that Clinton was unfit to lead.
Then there was the unearthing of the 2005 video by The Washington Post a little more than a month before the election in which Trump was heard to boast of forcing women to kiss him and “grab[bing] them by the pussy.” Trotting behind these twists and turns, experts, pollsters and journalists still could not wrap their heads around it. Before the polling stations closed, a huge majority of election polls still placed Clinton in the lead on the day of the election.
At the end of the December, the nominations for a future Trump government punctuate American news: a climate change skeptic for the Environmental Protection Agency, the head of ExxonMobil as secretary of state, a former Goldman Sachs employee to the Treasury. A cabinet of big business and Wall Street magnates, of billionaires – their combined fortune represents the wealth of more than a third of American households. And there are his equally horrifying tweets, where in 140 characters, he managed to screw up decades of diplomatic relations with China. Or there was a particularly memorable lapse when Trump tweeted the word “unpresidented” (hailed as word of the year by the Guardian), mixing up the words “unprecedented” and “president.” Well, he’s not wrong.
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Launched in 1973 by Jean-Paul Sartre and a group of like-minded left-wing intellectuals, Liberation was aimed at the “1968 generation” – those who felt frustrated by the slow pace of social change in France and wanted a paper with an alternative outlook. What started off as a radical chic publication moved closer to the mainstream from the 1980s onwards, and by January 2005, when the banker Edouard de Rothschild became the main shareholder and invested 20m euros (£13m) in the title, the process of counter-revolution seemed complete. A restructuring plan proposed by Rothschild gave rise to protracted and acrimonious battles with staff, and many of Liberation’s most respected journalists left the paper.