January 28th, 2014
On My Mind

Parisian Politics

© The New York Times

© The New York Times

At the risk of sounding shallow, I reluctantly admit that I’m enthralled with French president Hollande’s women problems. Not only am I amazed that the president’s record low ratings have risen since the announcement of his affair and sneaking out on a scooter (scooter?) without security, but I’m also fascinated with the trio of women themselves– his first partner and the mother of his four children, his second and now ex companion, and his current girl friend. It’s all just too good.

The NYT’s ran a thoughtful piece, Memo From Paris, that raises the question of the role and value of a first lady in France.  Also, I find it interesting that many French people, and especially Hollande himself, insist that this is a private matter and should have no bearing on his position as president, certainly a sentiment that would not fly in the U.S.  Yet, despite my desire to intellectualize or even pooh-pooh this drama, I’ve been watching it unravel, from the hospital stay to the room trashing at the presidential palace, with guilty pleasure.



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  • He’s not even cute….

    AnitaJanuary 28th, 2014  1:51 PM

  • I agree, it’s fascinating. I think partly because it is viewed in such a different way than it would be in the US. I don’t find any of them to be particularly sympathetic characters but I’m style compelled to follow the story.

    MonicaJanuary 28th, 2014  2:09 PM

  • It’s a mystery for me how a man that’s so unattractive to me, can attract so many beautiful women…maybe he’s very charming in person…

    AnaJanuary 28th, 2014  2:38 PM

  • still prefer a president not related to any sex/love scandal. idk, but i see it not so classy, especially if the man is so unattractive 😀
    (but, yes i appreciate any other opinion)

    marianaJanuary 28th, 2014  4:19 PM

  • Agree…curious and fascinating….but how doe he find the time for all of this? He’s the head of state of France!

    BarbaraJanuary 28th, 2014  6:32 PM

  • I keep thinking about the difference in French and American culture, yet whenever one of these political “sex” scandals occur, I can’t help but flip the sex of the characters, and reflect on what opinion would be. Worldwide a woman would be condemned politically, morally and psychologically.

    MargoJanuary 28th, 2014  7:49 PM

  • If a man doesn’t have looks, but acquires power, he becomes attractive. I think Americans are just as taken in by power and influence, but I think we still expect our leaders to be discreet in terms of their less than admirable qualities.

    AprilJanuary 28th, 2014  8:42 PM

  • Margo, you read my mind. Most of us agree he’s nothing to look at and should be focusing his energy on his job, but if he were a woman, she would be vilified on every level. Still, I freely admit I am fascinated by this whole circus!

    AliJanuary 28th, 2014  9:48 PM

  • For these women, looks have nothing to do with it. It is his power, access, and perhaps he has a fortune? I can think of many an odd-looking man (Aristotle Onassis?) who attract young and beautiful women. Americans still expect moral character in political leaders–a few recent NY candidate scandals have proven that.

    PaulaJanuary 29th, 2014  3:41 AM

  • France’s economy is falling apart, the jobless rate is climbing, the streets are full of homeless people and President Hollande is sneaking out the back door of the Elysee to meet his mistress. I am French and am concerned to have such a man leading my country. But I will admit that I am following the drama with much interest.

    JudithJanuary 29th, 2014  10:34 AM

  • I have wondered what manner of people are these. It surprises me that the woman go along with this way of living. Hollande and his first partner have 4 children together. Four children! Add to this number, in-laws when they marry, then grandchildren – how can you entertain anything else besides your career and your family? The answer appears to be you cannot. So the family goes by the wayside. I put myself in the woman’s position and admit I would be devastated if this happened to me. Then I think if I were one of those 4 children, who are young adults, what would I make of my mother and father? They don’t love each other enough to take the big oath, they both have all-consuming careers – where do I fit in. And I also admit that if I were one of those kids, when I see Hollande and his new girlfriend I would be jealous and get to resent him and also my mother for living like this.

    LorraineJanuary 29th, 2014  11:30 AM

  • Thanks for update! Mystery solved. He is President of France. Power has allure! Maybe as a reader suggested he has money but also in the culture not to appear ostentatious or “vulgar” .Mistress is seriously part of culture (or as they say written into the constitution!. What goes on in the bedroom falls under “private domain”. In France there is a public and private domain.. Very real… I think we make the mistake of looking at the french through out eyes but just as we have a very strong american culture so do they have a strong french culture. there are more legal partnerships than marriage and marriages are a legal signature not a whole wedding bonanza. Different and messy. They seem to have a stronger family unit than Americans because the country is not so big and generally children don’t go away to school..Just came back from Paris. Was raining and freezing. Must have warmed up! Saw quite a few young girls with long legs and short furs. Looked gorgeous but what to do about the fur issue. 94-96% of woman in England will not wear fur…I myself would not buy a new one and then wearing a vintage one still says… .what to do?

    LindyJanuary 29th, 2014  12:37 PM

  • Sorry for terrible grammar and editing. Power failed then wanted to post in rush!

    LindyJanuary 29th, 2014  12:40 PM

  • French kings often had their official mistress who was at times more powerful than the queen, example- Madame Pompadour. This pattern continues today in contemporary form: complex, messy but very interesting to get caught up in. Just read Andrea Stuart’s “Rose of Martinique” aka Josephine Bonaparte, talk about drama, affairs, power and control!!
    Human nature really does not change much……..especially among the power hungry.

    cindalaJanuary 29th, 2014  1:30 PM

  • I think Hollande’s behaviour is appalling but I do quite like Valerie

    That's Not My AgeJanuary 29th, 2014  7:08 PM

  • Omg…moral character is of utmost importance in a civic leader, even more so in one responsible for foreign policy. How can a person who is too immature and emotionally undeveloped to handle his personal relationships in a responsible, respectful manner, possibly able to handle foreign relationships and etc??

    Appallingly convenient subterfuge to define “private domain” as exempt from public scrutiny. Those poor women – we must all learn from their mistake.

    TunieJanuary 29th, 2014  11:37 PM

  • What angers me the most is that she behaved like a common thug (not the acting First Lady of France) destroying priceless national treasures in an act of anger and despair. Disgusting… Why this was not treated as a criminal act is beyond me. Future generations will be deprived because she was cheated on? While a very inelegant situation I really don’t care who sleeps with whom – I care how effective he or any other world leader is at at running the country… Politics at this level is not a Kardashian like sitcom but vitally important AND quite serious. Let them figure it out…
    I recall how ridiculous the whole Clinton/Lewinski affair seemed (I am not American) and it felt like one big distraction/ circus side show. Honesty is important in leaders but so to is the ability to focus on the running of a country. If any of us were in that situation we would crave privacy…. elected or not, famous or not I believe that is a human right to sort your affairs of the heart out with those directly involved. This situation with Hollande is gratuitous and is taking attention away from real issues.
    The Elysee meltdown also served to make her look ‘unhinged’ and him more relatable for seeking an alternative – not that I condone what he did/is doing… but what has been gained? Their PERSONAL relationship is fractured and some of France’s national treasure destroyed…and for what?? A moment of misplaced and unrequited passion…. a real waste if ever there was one. Shame on them both.

    TaraJanuary 30th, 2014  2:01 AM


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