"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Our First Ladies And The Soap Opera At The Élysée

I heard a British commentator on the BBC World Service last night wondering at the American electoral tradition of candidates trotting out their wives on the stump and at the party nominating convention.  “It’s like the CEO of British Leyland inviting his wife to speak at a senior management meeting at which he will announce a major corporate restructuring”.  It just isn’t done. 

Well, Mr. Bracegirdle, welcome to America where we not only trot out our wives but our children and their children.  There stood Ann Romney by her man, looking like a lumpy but presentable ex-beauty queen, loving him, adoring him, humanizing him for God’s sake, making him socially presentable to all the carpenters and maids who could not possibly know the Mitt she knows.  A sweet, caring, man who, yes was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but, like the French kings, had a belief in caring for those beneath him, noblesse oblige, the 18th Century version of ‘do the right thing’.  She was so pert, a tad north of sixty but youngish-looking in her pink outfit, shouting softness and caring, with notes of girly, frilly things and wholesomeness.  Family above all, duty to God and country only secondary to the greatest honor to be upheld – father.  The passel of party-dressed children and grandchildren, little adults in their patent leather shoes, bows, suits and ties was missing from the dais of the RNC but there will be plenty of time for them on the hustings.

Michelle Obama was just primped and pumped up for her man as Ann Romney.  Befitting her pedigree – hardnosed lawyer, businesswoman, success in her own right – she was dressed in a bolder pink, more aggressive and assertive, but her words were the same.  “I love him so”, she said, referring to the President.  “He was so sweet as a poor student with a rotted out beater of a car, and he has never lost his boyish charm and loving ways”. 

There is absolutely nothing strange about either of these couples.  They are perfect.  They have dinner together by candlelight.  They kiss their children before they go to bed, or in the Romneys’ case smile lovingly at the baby pictures of their sons and reminisce about the days when they read them stories and tucked them in.  They never get angry at each other, certainly never throw things.  And most of all…best of all, Barack and Mitt keep it in their pants.  They never even have dirty thoughts like Jimmy Carter admitted he did.  The last thing that Barack would ever do would be to look at another woman, and Ann Romney would have us believe that she was the first and only woman that Mitt ever looked at.

While all these cupcake-and-gingerbread parties are going on in Tampa and Charlotte, something else is going on entirely in the  Élysée Palace in Paris.  President Hollande is living there with his girlfriend.  His former wife is pissed because despite all her maneuvering she never made it to the Presidential Palace.  She was his mistress for decades, bore him many children, and then he dumps her for this…..this……manipulative harridan.  Worse, she wanted to be President of France, and this wimpy, inconclusive, dumpy man got the job.

Hollande’s current mistress hates the ex-mistress, and does everything she can to discredit and disparage her.  Edward Cody tells all in the Washington Post (9.4.12) in his review of two new books out about the melodrama.

The latest volley of revelations was fired Monday by Royal who was Hollande’s partner since graduate school, his political soul mate, the mother of his children and the Socialist Party’s unsuccessful candidate for president in 2007. She told the newspaper Le Figaro that all the talk of her enduring rivalry with Trierweiler, 47, was bad for the president’s image.

“The political dignity has been damaged,” she said, adding in an apparent jab at Trierweiler’s relationship with him, “not the profound respect and friendship we have for one another.”

Royal also told the paper that Hollande had offered her the post of justice minister when he was forming his government but that she turned it down to run for Parliament. Having lost, she said, she is awaiting other job offers from Hollande.

Trierweiler, as one would imagine, is no pussy cat and fired her own salvos at Royal:

According to the books, however, Trierweiler has told Hollande that she will not tolerate having Royal in the government or seeing photos of the two of them working together.

Trierweiler’s concerns were so intense before the election that, according to the books, she prevailed on the campaign’s communications director to erase Royal from a biographical film on Hollande and block her from appearing at a campaign ceremony.

Not only that, she gave her boyfriend (Hollande) an edict – she was setting up her own business office outside of the Palace.  This is not the American First Lady’s office within the White House where she does her correspondence, has teas for women donors, and draws up plans for redecorating the Presidential chambers; it is a separate, distinct ‘I-want-no-part-of-this-First-Lady-bullshit’ place of work.  

Things are so bad that the French public, always at the avant-garde of sexual politics, feels that the President “can’t control his women”, and if he can’t bang them around a little bit, think of what the Chinese would do to him.

It was never this bad.  Charles de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Francois Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac all behaved themselves.  While it is true that Mitterrand also had a longtime mistress and a daughter by her, she never lived in at the Élysée, always kept quiet and out of the way.  Mitterrand paid her visits and treated her well, and she knew her place.

The circus came to town with Sarkozy.

Sarkozy opened the door to “Dallas” as he won the presidency and took office in 2007. More or less publicly, he was at the time struggling to prevent his second wife, Cecilia, a former model, from running off with a buttery-smooth event planner.

He failed, and Cecilia left for a new life in New York. Within weeks of moving into the Elysee Palace, however, Sarkozy met Carla Bruni Tedeschi, another ex-model. After a swift courtship that included much-photographed excursions to Disneyland Paris and the ruins of Petra in Jordan, they were married, and the willowy Carla became a celebrity first lady — and later a celebrity mother.

No one ever thought that the relationship would last.  Carla Bruni was too hot a ticket to buy into the French governance thing and now that he is out of power, it should not be too long before she is photographed topless at St. Tropez with Greek playboy.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn thought he could get away with sexual sleaze after Sarkozy, but he misread the sexual politics of the US where an ambitious New York District Attorney wanted him hanged before election time. Then the press was on to him, and obviously too dumb to realize that he was now fair game for the paparazzi, was caught again doing sleazy things and worse.

The ironic thing about all of this was that US presidents had just as juicy exploits and, as in France, there was a complicity between them and the press to keep their affairs from prying public eyes.  John Kennedy was reported to be a true Lothario, and no Cuban Missile Crisis or Bay of Pigs was going to interrupt his dalliances with the likes of Marilyn Monroe.  The list of his alleged lovers is long.  In addition to Monroe JFK is said to have had liaisons with Jayne Mansfield, Angie Dickenson, and Blaze Starr to name some of the more well-known women in America at the time.  He apparently screwed interns, wealthy New York matrons, just about anybody.  His dick got him into trouble when he had sex with an alleged East European spy, Herbert Hoover, found out; and the story goes that he held Kennedy hostage.  “Go slow on the (N Word), or I will make everything public”, he was reported to have said.  Martin Luther King was also known to be a confirmed pussy-hound and the prim, Puritanical Hoover hated him for it. 

So what happened to America?  All we get is Bill Clinton getting sucked off in the Oval Office, John Edwards with a one-time illicit affair and a love child, and Mark Sanford, Governor of North Carolina going missing from office and taking off after his Argentine hottie.

It is hard to judge which was worst.  Bill Clinton denied that he ever had sex with Monica Lewinsky (“Depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”, he said, rejecting the notion that oral sex is sex).  Mark Sanford high-tailing it to Buenos Aires, leaving a high office for nookie is pretty bad; and John Edwards turned out to be a true sleazebag, denying his sexual peccadilloes, denying his girlfriend, denying his love child, and pressuring an aide to come up with a cover up story all while his wife is dying.  Edwards and Sanford apologized for their disgustingly sordid affairs, with tears; but at least Clinton and Hilary sucked it up, blamed the Republicans for piling on, and he will speak at the DNC tomorrow, resurrected and remade.

I know I will come in for criticism as a Francophile or worse, a worshipper of Euro trash, but I much prefer the French soap operas to the double-wide hillbilly nonsense of Edwards, Clinton, and Sanford.  Hollande not only is President of France, but he has got two powerful women fighting over him not just for his body but for the reins of government.  Heady stuff for an unassuming doughy middle-aged man. 

What I know for sure is that our sanctimonious display of moral rectitude, family value posturing, and beatification of American leaders if and only if they have kept Mr. Johnson under wraps is ridiculous.  Plain, corn pone, treacle, cotton candy, pink ribboned nonsense.   

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