France’s Soft Power

At the final Council of Ministers before the August vacation, Nicolas Sarkozy invited his entire government to share a going away toast in a salon of the Elysée Palace. There, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy offered them each a dedicated copy of her latest CD, which they all prominently displayed before the press upon leaving. Gotta love it.

The degree to which France has remained obsessed with Sarkozy is truly fascinating. He’s consistently the cover story of the weekly news magazines, alternately calculatingly omnipotent or hystericaly powerless, but always front and center.

But perhaps more fascinating is France’s newfound obsession with Carla Bruni, who has managed to seduce not just Sarkozy but the entire country. There are obvious reasons, I think, why I’ve yet to meet a man who isn’t under her charms. But I’ve also yet to meet a woman who isn’t smitten as well. The women all describe her as both glamorous and charming, aristocratic and down to earth, elegant and unaffected. I always expect the claws to come out, given that they’re talking about a woman who has “everything.” But instead, Carla has become “living proof” that the fairy tale ending they all still hope for can come true, so they’d rather cheer her on than root against her.

Of course, the fairy tale ending would be more convincing if the frog had actually turned into a prince, but I suppose you can’t have everything.