For all his belligerence and incompetence, Boris Yeltsin was the rarest of creatures in the phylum of the Russian ruler, a democrat and an idealist. He fell, as democrats and idealists tend to fall in the gullet of the Russian state. But he defied the monster, the beast of the totalitarian Soviet bureaucracy of death and stabbed it in its dying throes and stood upon its bleeding corpse with sword raised high and celebrated thinking the monster dead.
The monster of course does not die. It coiled its ugly self around the Empire of the Czars as over the Empire of the Premiers. It returns now in the form of a grim skeleton, a KGB chief with dead eyes who rules the land again and stretches out his hands across Europe and the oceans beyond. Dragons are hard to slay and if Boris Yeltsin was a poor dragonslayer, he did not lack for courage and in a land filled with dragons and too few men to slay them, he raised his sword and stood his ground for that golden shining moment in the sun.
For all the corruption of the democracy's dream which flared so briefly to life in Moscow, almost as briefly as it had in Baghdad, for a moment it seemed as if the darkness could be lifted from a very dark land. If Yeltsin's passing is to be accompanied by the voice that cries out, "The hour has come but not the man," then at least it is a passing of a man who might have broken the chains of slavery that bound the Russian people so far back through time. Who might have been the man.
Americans saw Yeltsin as a cartoonish figure. In a land rarely ruled by Russians, Boris Yeltsin had been a true Russian leader. Drinking to abandon, fighting blindly but courageously and finally failing disastrously, he epitomized the best and worst of the Russian spirit and the Russian heroes of myth and legend. He goes now to whatever great big Vodka barrel there is in the sky, a man who despite his failures, stood his ground under the shadow of Communism, who protected the people under him with determination and courage and whose all too human failures, render him that much more human.
Well how shocking is it that LePen lost the election. After all with even his daughter abandoning him and moderate right voters more likely to go for Sarkozy or the Christian Democrats, LePen's only demographic seemed to be former Nazi war criminals. LePen had even abandoned criticism of Muslim immigrants, for the usual kind of tedious Anti-Americanism every other candidate could offer, including Jose Bove, who also took a beating in the election.
The reason LePen had been a threat in the first place, was that France had faced a choice between two candidates who were not terribly dissimilar. By contrast Royal and Sarkozy both represent the right and left spectrum of French politics and can fulfill voter's needs without the need to drag out radicals like Bove or LePen.