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Caffeine pills, holograms and holding in a pee: Politicians’ tricks to stay alert

Welcome to Declassified, a weekly humor column.

Late nights, high levels of stress and constant travel — being a politician in the run-up to an election is a bit like being in a rock band (if that rock band had to dress smartly, talk about the cost of energy, and run the risk of an occasional disgruntled voter smashing an egg on their heads).

It’s no wonder they get tired. Marine Le Pen, for example, has attributed her failure to beat Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the 2017 presidential election in part to her being fatigued after a grueling campaign (that and her policies, of course). This time, she says she is feeling better thanks to vitamin C and caffeine pills. She’s basically the political version of a student amped up on Pro Plus and Red Bull while studying for a big exam — and will therefore soon need a lie-down and a cuddle from a parent. Although in Le Pen’s case, dad’s not really the cuddling kind.

Macron, meanwhile, is also feeling refreshed on account of not having done any actual campaigning apart from one massive rally (and posing for those photos in a hoodie for the full “I’m just like Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but without the war” effect).

The only other person with a chance of making it to the second round of the French election, leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, lessened the load by using a hologram version of himself to appear at multiple campaign rallies at the same time, a high-tech trick he also used in 2017. It’s a technique that’s mainly been used for performances by dead pop stars, including Michael Jackson moonwalking at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards and Tupac Shakur performing at the 2012 Coachella music festival.

Sadly, Mélenchon just spoke about his policy platform and didn’t perform a duet with Whitney Houston, whose hologram has been touring the world. What a massive missed opportunity for me to draw a Venn diagram featuring people who want to lower the retirement age and freeze the price of fuel on the one hand, and those who enjoy belting out a karaoke version of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” on the other.

Politicians all have their own methods of dealing with potentially stressful situations. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron employed the “full bladder” technique to achieve maximum focus when at tense, late-night EU summits. Cameron revealed after such a summit in 2011 that during the formal dinner and subsequent horse-trading, he remained intentionally “desperate for a pee.”

That technique backfired horribly in 2016 when he was so desperate for a piss that he blurted out: “Yes, fine, let’s have a referendum on EU membership. Now where’s the toilet?”

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“What position do I play? Right wing.”

Can you do better? Email [email protected] or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

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“Veteran boy band launch their charity single to aid Ukraine,” by Paul Barrett

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s Slot News Editor.

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