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La Belle Epoque

The First Lady of France.

In the latest New Yorker Adam Gopnik has a superb piece on French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his consort-in-affiance, the bonny Carla Bruni.

What distinguishes the ballad of Carla and Nicolas from similar tales is that this time the media is not trying to pry into the private life of a public man; this time, a public man is trying desperately to parade his private life in front of the media. Sarkozy not only performed for the press, welcoming photographers along as he and Bruni holidayed in Egypt and walked on the beach in what used to be called bathing costumes; he insists, to everyone ‘s embarrassment, on talking about their bonheur and their approaching marriage at press conferences. This is not tacit complicity, of the Princess Di-and-the-tabloids kind; it is Presidential leadership. Sarkozy wants people to think about his sex life, in the way that Bill Clinton didn ‘t want people thinking about his.
The odd thing about Gopnik’s article, though, is that one reads through it, smirks, smiles, gets giddy—and then at the end finds out that Gopnik disapproves of the whole situation. Oh, well; la belle France is back and the succès de scandale with her.


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