Friday, April 20, 2012

Presidential Politics

Valérie Trierweiler
You thought I was going to talk about the American presidential campaign didn't you? Not on your life will I jump into that morass.

Carla Bruni Sarkozy
Instead I thought I would address a very peculiar phenomenon -- in my opinion -- that is at the center of the French presidential race. The women attached to the candidates are all but nonexistent. Eva Jolie,  the sole woman running we assume is unattached at the moment. Of the other nine candidates -- yes, can you believe it (?) 10 candidates total -- except for the two top runners we have no idea what their spouses look like. As far as I know we don't even know their names or if they have children -- or dogs. . .
Ségolène Royal
The former top model, Madame Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who is France's current first lady remains mostly hidden in the shadows. The man challenging Nicolas Sarkozy, Socialist François Hollande, has never been married although he fathered four children with Ségolène Royal who lost her presidential run five years ago against France's current leader. Today Hollande's partner is the journalist Valérie Trierweiler who is often front row center, but never on the stage with her partner although she is apparently a vociferous Tweeter.

Neither woman is "on the trail" working the crowds for their men. In fact, Hollande was asked that if elected would he and Trierweiler marry. He said -- and I'm paraphrasing -- they were not concerned with convention and would not marry for the sake of social acceptability. He would be the first president in the history of the country not to be married.

All polls show that Sarkozy and Hollande will be the only candidates left standing after this Sunday's preliminary voting to winnow the race down to the top two for the final contest on May 6th.

We know quite a bit about President Sarkozy and his wife because they have been, by choice and by chance, in the public spotlight for five years. We know very little about Monsieur Hollande.

It seems to me that candidates' partners show another dimension of the man or woman running for office. I would like to know them. How do the two compliment one another? I agree with the French that we do not have to enter deeply into their private lives, but wouldn't it be nice to see the partnership?

Monsieur et Madame Sarkozy with baby Giulia.
Sarkozy was so reviled for sharing personal details of his courtship and marriage to Bruni that the two refused to allow any pictures to be published of their baby girl born late last year. They didn't want to be accused of using Giulia as a tender family public relations stunt.

If you think this musing is going someplace; I regret to say it is not. Maybe it's the American in me that would like to know the person as well as the politician even if the information is carefully staged. I want to be introduced to the family. They don't have to invite me for dinner; I simply want to meet them.

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