Three weeks before voters head to the polls to choose the next president of France, all 11 first-round candidates lined up in a large semicircle for a nationally televised debate that quickly dissolved into a cacophony of insults and shouts that steamed rapidly out of control.
For an American viewer, it was a Gallic clone of our own Republican primary debates a year before.
A week after this televised contest, France's leading daily newspaper, Le Monde, asked, "What would the first months of an Emmanuel Macron presidency look like?" -- effectively baptizing one of the two leading candidates the winner even before the first ballot is cast.
It appeared to be a form of wishful thinking, not unlike the broad assumptions of most American newspapers in October that Hillary Clinton was the presumptive heir to the presidency of the United States -- not Donald Trump.
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