Sunday, January 19, 2014

Get Lucky

Vivre la difference entre the US and France in a nutshell:
French President Francois Hollande has said he is experiencing a "difficult moment" in his private life, following claims of an affair with an actress.
But he refused to answer questions over the report, saying "private matters should be dealt with privately.Mr Hollande was speaking at his first news conference since the allegations in the magazine Closer last week.
He said he would clarify whether Valerie Trierweiler was still first lady before a February trip to the US. Let's clarify this by admitting that Valerie is not viewed sympathetically by most of the French public. His previous partner, Segolene Royale is still one of the most important figures in French politics. He had 3 children during his relationship with Segolene. They were never married and the relationship crumbled when she ran for president of France back in 1996, but both parents have the  loyal support of their offspring.
Can you imagine if Bill Clinton had said that, as President? He did say something similar – while still denying the allegations of an affair with Jennifer Flowers – as a candidate but that was when he was barely a blip on the primary calendar in 1992.
The stereotype of a successful Frenchman having at least one mistress in a pied-a-terre overlooking the Seine is legendary, and mostly accepted by the French with good humour. After all, this is a nation with a long history of monarchs and nobility with legendary prowess at bedding women, most notably the exploits of Casanova.
For us French domestically, this is minor fluff: a beautiful woman replaced with another beautiful woman by a man of power and charisma. The biggest mystery, for us who actually have met Hollande in the flesh is WTF? This is the guy who was mocked for his quiet demeanor as Mr. Flamby...a sort of commercial generic  caramel custard of a man....Hey, here in France, Hollande has actually gotten a rise in his approval ratings...The opposition parties are sort of holding off with their criticism, because, who knows what evidence the press has of the dawdling about of the sundry personages of the UMP and heaven forbid, the Front National? For the population of Tulle, in the rural Correze, the city that Hollande represented for years, they are experiencing the curse and the blessing of the foreign press. He was there this weekend and the restaurants and hotels had a boom winter weekend as the representatives of the international press descended on this town, more renowned for it's accordion manufacturing...well it was one of the major centers of the Resistance in WW2....but most of the residents stayed inside rather be assaulted by Japanese reporters wanting to have their opinions on the President's sex life.
For some, it’s a nightmare. For a nation whose language is still the language of diplomacy, to insult the wife of a leader of another powerful nation by bringing a mistress along will be viewed as tawdry and unseemly by the opposition...but he's not divorcing Valerie...they were never married. He didn't divorce Segolene, they agreed to separate. When Nicolas Sarkozy was elected President of France, his marriage was disintegrating and he didn't miss a beat with making Carla Bruni the new Jackie Kennedy clone first lady. If he wants to bring Julie Gaylet to Washington in a few weeks...well, Julie is a world class actress and intellectual. She will knock them all dead. I'm sure Julie and Michelle will be the very bestest of friends... for Hollande to go stag would be nothing more than a reminder of his “man in a suitcase” status.
To M. Hollande, I offer a solution: bring your daughter Flora with you. An adult woman to escort you would force the American (and local opposition) press to shut up about it during the trip, and Flora being your daughter with Ségolène Royal would only make more confusion for People magazine....
And sir, may I further salute you on your taste in women…

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