Opinion: Why does Macron want you to see his bulging muscles?

Soisage de la Moissonnier/Instagram

Images of French President Emmanuel Macron hitting a punching bag sparked a state of amusement, astonishment and panic in the country.

Editor's note: Adam Plowright He is an author “The French Exception: Emmanuel Macron – The Extraordinary Rise and Risks.” The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. Read more CNN opinion.


Were they real? Most people's first reaction to seeing French President Emmanuel Macron is moody black and white Boxing pictures This week was to question its authenticity. Were the bulging presidential biceps and veins artificially swollen?

Courtesy Adam Plowright

Adam Plowright

On social media, some questioned whether the images were created by artificial intelligence or the result of creative Photoshop. But the photos were from the president's personal photographer. When asked about cynics who questioned her work, she dismissed them.

The social media meme factory is in full swing. It was Macron He mocked Popeye, the spinach-eating sailor hero. He has been compared to “Raging Bull” Jake LaMotta. Less flattering images of his arms were found and placed side by side. “Your profile picture vs real life,” one wrote. Real boxing coaches criticized his style.

But the images raise much bigger questions. Why did he do this? Why now?

The first part of the answer is that the 46-year-old has always been adept at making himself the center of the conversation. Since his first steps into politics in 2014, he has been self-proclaimed “The disruptor” He knew how to exploit the power of provocation. Politicians fear nothing more than irrelevance.

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He's always been an athlete, too. for him Football days He is long gone and finds little time for his favorite sport of tennis, but he has been boxing in the gym at the presidential palace since winning power in 2017, and sometimes takes aides or bodyguards as sparring partners.

Motivating the French is one of his current “national issues” ahead of this year's Paris Olympics. In January, he posted a video online, with boxing gloves hanging over his shoulder, urging the French people to do so. 30 minutes of exercise daily.

Soisage de la Moissonnier/Instagram

One of the moody photos of French President Emmanuel Macron boxing, released this week.

But the pictures said something bigger. This was an agitated Macron, ready to fight, gritting his teeth. Everywhere he looks nowadays, the centrist sees battles, most of which are escaping him. The “rock” president may be in good physical shape, but he is politically and diplomatically backed into a corner.

His second term, which he won two years ago with minimal campaigning, quickly became embroiled The worst protests the country has witnessed in decades And I've been drifting ever since. Despite all the insults against far-right leader Marine Le Pen's anti-immigration party in recent months, the polls are still getting worse.

Le Pen's party is on the right track Winning the European Parliament elections In June again, with potential Profit margin of 10 points. No serious commentator is ruling out the idea of ​​her succeeding Macron in 2027. By some estimates, she and her protégé, 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, They are the second and third most popular politicians in the country.

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The French economy is also in decline, threatening the collapse of public finances. Macron held a meeting with senior ministers and allies over dinner this week. Invite them to the seafood buffet To find ways to reduce spending.

Greater enemies loom in the East and West. Many observers concluded that the vulgar boxing images were a message to the Kremlin's black-belt judoka, Russian President Vladimir Putin, a master of the theatrics of his masculinity, whether… Topless horseback riding or spearfishing.

Emmanuel Macron/Twitter

A drop in the ocean. French President Emmanuel Macron visits the submarine “Le Terre” off the coast of Brittany in 2017.

Macron has plenty of role models in this area too, once posting a video of himself being lowered down a platform Nuclear submarine with helicopter.

After spending months trying to avert war in Ukraine with Putin's sweet rhetoric, Macron has transformed himself into Europe's leading defense hawk in recent months. Long gone are the days when he felt anxious “insulting” The former KGB man will berate Eastern European countries such as “Warmongers.”

In late February, Macron He refused to rule out sending troops to UkraineThis sent a shock wave through European capitals. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a political punching bag at home whose perceived weakness infuriates Macron, has been refusing to deliver long-range missiles to Kiev.

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The infamous long handshake between then US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the NATO summit, in Brussels, 2017.

Like leaders across the European Union, Macron is also preparing for Donald Trump's potential return to the White House. The French president concluded that force was the only language his massive American counterpart understood during his first term in the White House. A handshake between the two men It was like a wrestling match, with Macron once pressing Trump's knuckles so hard they turned white.

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By temperament, the former investment banker is a risk-taker. By nature, he likes to be on top. He may seem like he's on the rocks, with trouble mounting in Paris, Kiev and Washington, but he wants us to know he'll keep rocking.

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