Sunday, July 26, 2009


Steven Erlanger, who has been known to read this blog from time to time, gives his version of the transformation of Sarkozy in today's New York Times. The change, if there is one, is ascribed almost entirely to Carla Bruni, who "grew up rich and well educated, at ease with the kind of cultural references the French regard as central to civilization." Civilization, if it includes Fellini, also includes Leonard Cohen, Dennis Hopper, Marianne Faithfull, Michel Houellebecq, a new watch from Patek Philippe, and English shirts from Hilditch & Key.

Plus ça change ... Cécilia, in her day, also dressed her man and was said to be a civilizing influence. Which intellectuals, exactly, is Sarko supposedly wooing with this eclectic mix? Houellebecq will drive away more than Dennis Hopper entices, and Patek Philippe and Hilditch & Key merely raise the level of bling to that of, say, the Financial Times Weekend supplement rather than stargazing fan magazines. BHL and Glucksmann already dined with Sarko the Vulgar, while a raft of economists supported him the first time around and, though somewhat disappointed with the way things have turned out, aren't likely to abandon him in Round Two. But it's the summer silly season (blog traffic hit an annual low yesterday), so we are reduced to filling newsprint and bandwidth with Sarko makeover stories.

There is one delicious anecdote in the piece, however:

[The president] dragged out a copy of Jean-Paul Sartre’s autobiography with passages underlined, including, “Progress, this long arduous path that leads to me.” He read the passage to several journalists, L’Express said, and he commented: “Someone who is capable of writing that. ... It’s impressive, no?” It was not clear that the president caught the irony in Sartre, though it is just possible that L’Express did.

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