Maureen Dowd is my idol, an absolutely amazing writer who says it like it is.
I couldn't resist posting this article:
The Carla Effect
The French are different from you and me.
Yes, they have Sarkozy.
And they have Carla.
And they have “the Carla effect,” as it’s known in Paris.
If an American first lady, or would-be first lady, described herself as a “tamer of men” and had a “man-eating” past filled with naked pictures, Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton, sultry prone CD covers, breaking up marriages, bragging that she believes in polygamy and polyandry rather than monogamy, and having a son with a married philosopher whose father she had had an affair with, it would take more than an appearance on “The View” to sweeten her image.
It’s hard to imagine the decibel level on Fox News if Michelle Obama put out a CD this summer, as Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is, with songs featuring lyrics like “I am a child/despite my 40 years/despite my 30 lovers/a child”; and this song, “Ma came”: “You are my junk/more deadly than Afghan heroin/more dangerous than Colombian white. .../My guy, I roll him up and smoke him.”
Or if Michelle gave an interview, as Carla did in a new book, “La Véritable Histoire de Carla et Nicolas,” revealing that she fell in love with her husband for his many fertile brains.
“I didn’t expect someone so funny and so alive,” she said, recalling their blind date at a dinner party.
“I was seduced by his physical appearance, his charm and his intelligence. He has five or six brains which are remarkably irrigated.
“I didn’t go out with cretins before I met him. That’s not my style. But he is really, really quick.”
One chapter of the book is called “Le Diable s’Habille en Carla,” or “The Devil Wears Carla.” And the most repeated anecdote is the one where Carla slyly teases the French justice minister, Rachida Dati, a Sarko protégé, as they pass by a bed in the Élysée: “You would have loved to occupy it, wouldn’t you?”
But somehow the French — who are “polymorphously perverse,” as Woody Allen admiringly called Diane Keaton in “Annie Hall” — have become so enamored of their new first lady that they’re starting to like her husband more.
At the funeral of Yves Saint Laurent in Paris, Sarkozy got some catcalls when he got out of his car, while Carla, a former model for the designer, who calls herself “nothing more than a folk singer,” got applause and oohs and aahs.
“Preceded by a sulfurous reputation,” Le Journal du Dimanche reported, “Carla Bruni has improbably succeeded in a country so traditionally attached to conventions: in less than six months, the third wife of Sarko has conquered, after that of the President, the heart of the French: 68 percent of them, according to our JDD poll, appreciate their new first lady.”
In a recent survey in Le Figaro, the French president was back up at 37 to 41 percent favorables from a low of 32 percent last month.
“The president is better,” a close adviser to the mercurial Sarko told a reporter.
“There is definitely a serenity in his life now,” the French writer Olivier Royant told me.
“He has stopped behaving like a twit since the marriage,” a veteran observer of European politics agreed. “And unlike Cécilia, who seemed like a self-conscious pill who hated being at the Élysée, Carla is playing her role well. She is bien dans sa peau, happy in her own skin.”
Intuitively aware of the media, she handles both the French and foreign press with a down-to-earth aplomb. She has said she will keep her personality “while respecting the dignity of the position” and take her job “seriously.” She plans to write a diary, adding: “I write in French and dream in Italian.”
The magazine Le Point had a cover with Carla’s gleaming face and the headline “La Présidente,” with a picture inside of Sarko standing docilely behind his wife, as she sat at his desk and offered that assured feline gaze to the camera.
Just as Carla charmed the Queen of England and Princes Charles and Philip with her demure French schoolgirl look, she charmed George and Laura Bush on their visit, inviting Laura 30 minutes early for a girls’ tête-à-tête, and then sitting next to the American president and keeping him entertained with a spirited conversation in English, one of her three languages and sort of his one language.
At a press availability the next day, W. interrupted his own boring observation about “the importance of the Doha Round” to smilingly tell his pal Sarko: “It was a great pleasure to have been able to meet your wife. She’s a really smart, capable woman, and I can see why you married her. And I can see why she married you, too.”