Friday, January 11, 2008

Problems in France

Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla BruniFrench President Nicolas Sarkozy is in love and its causing quite a stir over there.

Here's the thing. His wife of 12 years decided to up and leave him just weeks after he took office. Apparently, she went back to a former lover. He was so upset about her leaving that he had to be hospitalized briefly - but that was a state secret at the time. Well, no sooner did she move on to her former lover than he met a look-alike younger version of her and now he's 'besotted' as they say over there.

Everybody is worried.

His supporters are worried because he's not acting like himself. He's been a workaholic, but now he's daydreaming and canceling appointments and jetting off to exotic vacations with his model girlfriend, Carla Bruni. They are also concerned because its affecting his official duties. For instance, the Vatican wouldn't receive him because they don't receive the girlfriend of a world leader. They say he really needs a First Lady, but many question whether she's the right First Lady. You see, she's got quite the past.

Carla Bruni's nickname is 'maneater' if that gives you a clue. She's been known to break up marriages and date men like Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger and Donald Trump. Plus, she's pretty high maintenance and seems to be leading the President around on a leash. The general consensus is that she will be the end of his career. Many seem to think its her resemblance to his former wife that has him so obsessed with her.

Its not that the French mind affairs.

What they mind is that they are so public. Sarkozy has stated he just won't hide his life from the public. The French find that appalling. They say its just not done. Affairs should be carried on in secret!

It is not at all what the French expect from their head of state. As one Paris-based friend of mine remarked, Sarkozy has "betrayed the national code of honour".

Despite its sybaritic image, France is a fundamentally provincial country which respects social order and prefers affairs to be secret - a situation helped by draconian privacy laws.

"Sarkozy has opened the curtains on a country which was happily eating cheese and climbing up the backstairs to visit mistresses," says my friend gloomily. "France likes hypocrisy. It does not like sexual openness. We are not Italy."

Sarkozy, of course, has a different interpretation. "I broke with a deplorable tradition in our country, that of hypocrisy and lies," he said yesterday.

"With Carla, we decided not to lie. We don't want to hide."

Cecilia SarkozySo are we witnessing an enormous cultural shift in France or a president who has taken leave of his senses?
To make matters even worse his former wife, Cecilia Sarkozy, has written a biography that is very damaging to Sarkozy. This is the third book about Sarkozy's love life in the less than a year that he's been France's president. Not good. Cecilia is now claiming that she didn't intend for her conversations with French journalist Anna Bitton to be published. Bitton says that's just not true and says this about Cecilia: "ice-cold, blue-blooded empress' and a 'poor little rich girl who is addicted to shopping". Ouch!

Some of Cecilia's assertions ....

Sarkozy is "ridiculous, badly behaved and not fit to be president" Cecilia Sarkozy says in a new book, adding for good measure that the women in his life are just a 'bunch of slappers' (or des petasses fardees, as the French would have it).

Even the president's female political colleagues do not escape her barbed tongue: they are just "boring wallflowers, and now that there is no First Lady, he needs to surround himself with pretty young things dressed in Dior".

Hmmm .... nasty, nasty. Pass the milk! Stay tuned ... I'll keep you updated when I find out what the next chapter of this soap opera is. C'est la vie!