Breitbart says the former president is backing one with his eleventh-hour endorsement on Thursday of the independent centrist technocrat Emmanuel Macron in France’s presidential election. “I have admired the campaign that Emmanuel Macron has run,” Obama said in a video message. “He has stood up for liberal values. He put forward a vision for the important role that France plays in Europe and around the world, and he is committed to a better future for the French people. He appeals to people’s hopes and not their fears.”
That last comment is the most telling—not just a throwback to his own hope-oriented campaign slogans, but an apparent shot at Macron’s far-right rival for the presidency, Marine Le Pen. Just last month, Obama stopped short of formally endorsing in their race, but he’s obviously decided to make a stronger statement against the rise of Le Pen and her Trump-style nationalism in France. She may now be running 20 points behind Macron in polling ahead of Sunday’s election, but Obama is bringing to bear his 90-percent popularity in France in the hopes of stopping her.
It’s a bit of an overstatement to characterize Obama himself as a globalist in the Breitbartian sense. As CNN reported a year ago, he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were “sharply at odds over austerity versus growth models in reviving the global economy,” suggesting that he and Le Pen share the same objections to the EU’s overweening centralization. But Obama has also said he might vote for the immigrant-friendly Merkel if he were German, and he tried unsuccessfully to beat back rising nationalism in opposing Brexit last year.