Marry First, Then Cheat

In France, it’s O.K. to cheat if you’re married, but not if you’re single.

Comments: 198

  1. Who needs Paris when we already have our own Versailles-on-the-Potomac?
    .
    Only a few days after President Obama signed a Farm Bill cutting $9 bn, or about $90 a month from the grocery budgets of nearly a million families relying on the SNAP program for their very survival, the White House sent out emails with the engraved State Dinner menu. Ten courses, starting with caviar and ending with Hawaiian chocolate malted ganache. Could it have gotten any more gauche?

    Well, oui. As if rubbing our noses in it, Michelle then sent out another mass email showing the pampered Obama chiens, Bo and Sunny, adorned in jewels, posing before a small fortune in fine china and crystal upon a mirrored table. At first, I thought the email had to be a right-wing trick from the Ghost of Breitbart, but non! C'était la réalité! But I pathetically cling to the hope that Michelle Obama was simply spoofing Michelle Malkin. Because nobody could be that gauche. Could they?

    Well, oui. Because when Bernie Sanders and a mere handful of other Democratic senators sent the president a "strongly-worded" letter demanding that he drop the idea of reducing benefits for our already impoverished seniors, veterans, disabled, widows and orphans, the reply was ominous. Chained CPI is still on that gilt table in Versailles-on-the-Potomac. Press Sec. Jay Carney called it a "hard choice" -- to go along, I suppose, with the choice cuts being offered up to the rabid plutocrats, always hungry for more, more, and more.

  2. You should lighten up Karen. The dog pic was just fun.

  3. "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche"
    So let them eat cake. C'est la vie Etats Unis
    @ Karen Garcia, your rebuttal is especially brilliant!

  4. I can't stand the silly comparisons to Versailles -

    First of all - the White House looks like some kind of "shag" compared to Versailles and the French Aristocracy had "style" - and there -(and then) - Colbert would have had to entertain the guest in pink tights and a feather Boa on his head!

  5. Should we worry that the NSA didn't have a big enough shredder to help the WH out with the invites?? Why is it the Obamas can't have a state dinner without it turning into a reality show?

  6. Because they have so very little parctice! How many have they had in five years? Three?

  7. I think they have had seven state dinners--far below the norm. Question: do we care?

  8. Another great and very funny column, Maureen. Leave it to Steven Colbert to liven things up, just too funny that his mission is to find Jean Valjean! Once when I visited a European country, I encountered a couple of my 'countrymen', openly exclaiming loud vulgarities, I can only say I could understand why many in Europe have such a low opinion of us. Of course, many Americans are well mannered and polite when traveling, but those more akin to guests on the Jerry Springer show don't do our national reputation much good.

  9. Hollande has been gauche and a cad,
    His social behavior is bad,
    His act of sedition
    'Gainst gallic tradition
    Would make any Francophile mad.

    A two mistress man, now has marred
    The Land in which Charles de Gaulle starred
    He was given a chance
    Not to dishonour France,
    Ended hoist by his own pétard.

  10. Too clever for words except yours! Bravo et felicitations, Laurent.

  11. Larry,

    The French are rather strange.
    We mimic them all the same.
    We are their "friend in need"
    But they laugh at us indeed!

    They are Socialists more or less.
    Though it's often hard to guess.
    Perhaps Anarchists states it best.
    As they avoid taxes with the best.

    Though they talk "equality".
    They "walk" as Chauvinists mostly.
    Their "Pols" are something to see
    20 million Frenchmen can be wrong you see!

  12. Very funny column tonight Ms. Dowd.
    I find it interesting that Stephen Colbert was a guestbat the state dinner. They should actually host a state dinner for him and Jon Stewart. After all, they are the political Ambassadors to our youth. And those of us who are young at heart.

  13. The French are acting strangely, and maybe it's just fuddy duddy Catholic hypocrisy. Or, perhaps, more of their own marriages have become cages than they are willing to admit. That might be the real rule that is being violated.

    The French are famous for the notion that neurosis is a sign of intelligence. Hollande has decided that he wants to have a good time, and who cares if he's a leader. The French think that a good time should be emotionally complex, and that passionate women throw tantrums.

    An actual healthy grownup is not tolerated, especially when he's a head of state. Of course, we can't very well preach at the French these days. Think about bizarre and damaged guys like Nixon, W, and even Obama, who still doesn't realize he can stand up to the banks and oil companies. A leader who knows how to party wouldn't be a bad thing over here, either.

  14. "The French are acting strangely,..."

    "An actual healthy grownup is not tolerated, especially when he's a head of state.

    "And even Obama, who still doesn't realize he can stand up to the banks and oil companies."

    @Mike Roddy, Thanks. This nails it.

    The French are indeed acting strangely; and, the paranoic reaction to publication of a "map of the cults" of Paris, sponsored by Parisian mayoral candiate Anne Hidalgo in 2005, and current 'jour de colere' demonstrations, resonate with similarly orchestrated reactions to social trends in the US, as described recently by Linda Greenhouse in "The Stories We Tell."

    Ms. Dowd is frequently repudiated for her focus upon inadequacy of presidents, past and current; yet, she serves us well by sharing insights into presidential character.

    The "actual healthy grownup" has yet to emerge from chrysalis. I watched with dismay a video of Mr. Obama as he walked, with apparent dread, past Dick Cheney and other malefactors of the prior administration to undertake the oath, and assume the burden of office. Mr. Obama seemed already to anticipate, by joining the pack of plutocratic weasels who manage our national and political economies, his engulfment in capitalist subsumption.

    The "body armor" which he exhibited in those movements has its counterpart in personality; an neurotic inability to engage the contemporary dissolution of democracy with the strength of character of the Roosevelt presidents, in particular, is deeply disappointing.

  15. '...The French think that a good time should be emotionally complex, and that passionate women throw tantrums...'

    The French are incredibly sexist, as is your comment.

  16. A couple of nuggets of truth in this rather trivial puff pastry of a column:

    1. Hollande has behaved badly in subsidizing Trierweiler on the taxpayers' dime.

    2. The inclusion of Stephen Colbert at the head table at Obama's dinner for Hollande was gauche at best, and displaced a more substantive guest.

  17. Anetliner,

    Really?

    Mr. Colbert is the number 1 late night host in the 18-49 age group. Most of whom consider him a major source of their news. The NYT reaches around 1.86 million readers. Mr. Colbert's offering reaches 2.5 million and 1.4 million in the 18 - 49 age group up over 20% in a year. Would you like to guess how many readers the NYT has in the same age group? On the subject of the NYT no less a person than then NYT columnist Frank Rich felt that Colbert's 2006 speech at the D.C Correspondent's dinner was"the defining moment of the 2006 midterm elections".

    I'm interested in hearing who you think he "displaced as "a better choice"?

  18. AnetinerNetliner wrote: "The inclusion of Stephen Colbert at the head table at Obama's dinner for Hollande was gauche at best, and displaced a more substantive guest."

    However Cobert could be relied upon to keep witty conversation going.

  19. And who, pray, might that "more substantive guest" be? Stephen Colbert is one of our greatest satiric artists, as well as most consistently brilliant political "analysts," and for his deservedly scathing dissections and necessary critiques of the hypocrisies, prevarications, insatiable greed, and sheer stupidity that now prevail in the corridors of power in D.C. and Wall Street, he has provided public service of the highest value to the Nation, and thus most certainly deserved his seat at the head table at the White House.

  20. Seven percent of French children live in relative poverty. 22.4 percent of U.S. children live in relative poverty; 45 percent for African-American children. French students rank about 21st in education among the top 65 industrial nations. The U.S. ranks about 32nd. The French have 35 hour work weeks and 5 week annual vacations.

    Now we know how the French can afford all that. Their men chase attractive middle-aged women riding mopeds.

  21. As long as so many Americans know that Colbert is actually a serious Republican -

    Il est BON!

    (but I don't understand Obama? - If he sit's down with a stupid Republican - isn't that dude FBI -"full bloodied Irish") and called O'Reilly?)

  22. But they have the Louvre, don't they? That's enough for me.

    Why bring in Bill C.'s affair when talking about Hollande?
    Hamburger on the run vs a French dinner on the Left Bank?

    Did we notice who else was present at Mitterand's funeral?

    Two different countries, two different cultures. One has the Louvre.

  23. And Catherine Deneuve!!!

  24. And REAL Croissants!

  25. AND Maureen - if you are in Paris - don't forget to eat a dead fish at La Coupole

    There is this waiter there... Oh La La....!

  26. So it is OK to cheat on the wife, but simply bad form to cheat on a mistress – sacré bleu! Only in France, can a concubine get more respect than a legally wedded spouse? I am sure many Americans, including some of our former heads of state, must be mumbling “Vive la France” under their breath!

  27. Our previous Taoiseach had a lover whom he squired from country to country whilst in office and that relationship didn't last. For a rabidly catholic country up to a decade or thereabouts ago, no one gave a fiddler's pluck what the man did in his bedroom and that's how it should be.

  28. Had he stayed in his bedroom, rather than gallivanting from country to country, your point would make sense. Some folks just like to hang their dirty linen in public, and claim it's "in their bedroom." Can't have it both ways.

  29. Julie Gayet gorgeous? N'est-ce pas!

  30. "O Kate, nice customs do curtsy to great kings. Dear Kate, you and I cannot be confined within the weak list of a country's fashion. We are the makers of manner, Kate . . .", words that Henry V, by way of Shakespeare's pen, told Catherine of Valois after the Battle of Agincourt. Might this attitude fairly describe Hollande's disdain that he was made to wiggle uncomfortably around Steven Colbert during dinner last week and that, as Prime Minister, nice customs must first curtsy to the wishes of Francoise Hollande and whoever he is cavorting with in a given moment.

  31. Let's look at the word, "Cheat." To cheat is to break the rules. So in the usages here around extra-marital sex, it follows to ask whose rules are being broken. It's too vague to conclude that society's rules are broken when people carry on outside of their legal marriage or long-term relationship, because the principles of how mores become codified and enforced are left to be seen as arbitrary. It could be different if Americans or the French had reason to expect that people would have only one lifetime sexual partner and only in the context of marriage or a long-term relationship. But both countries are openly sexual (Bible Belt and Deep South notwithstanding), beginning with adolescence. So extra-marital shouldn't be any more scandalous than pre-marital sex.
    It is fine for anyone to have misgivings about casual sex and multiple partners - in fact, I personally hope people would be wary of spreading STDs and of unwanted pregnancy - but that's a far cry from being judgmental about what the next person does.

  32. So extra-marital shouldn't be any more scandalous than pre-marital sex.
    ------------------------
    It depends how seriously you and your spouse take your wedding vows, right? Ask her.

  33. Charles,

    I appreciate you taking the time to reply to me.
    For what it's worth, I am a woman.
    Yes, I realize that the promise to be faithful is a standard wedding vow, but in practical terms, I find that it's applied about as inconsistently as "to obey." So knowing enough people in my life, both men and women, who aren't monogamous, I want to mitigate the emotional fallout from extramarital affairs by being upfront about their ubiquity.
    Best regards to you.

  34. I see no reason to get worked over Messier Hollande sitting on the right of Mrs. Obama or to the left of our President Mr.Obama. After all he is a single man as well as an elected President of France on a state visit who prefers amorous relationships over marriag. The french don't seem to frawn on extra marital affaris why should we.

  35. Meow, Maureen.

    Would the French have complained about an etiquette scandal if Jerry Lewis been seated next to Michelle instead of Stephen Colbert? Mr. Colbert IS Jerry Lewis for the 21st century for heaven's sakes.

    And for those who would compare the price tag of this state dinner to cuts in aid for seniors, disabled, veterans and the like, I would say a more apt comparison is the cost of a dinner compared to the cost of our country's blood and treasure. France has our back on Syria. They had our back when we fought against the British for our independence.

    A beautiful state dinner -- it's the very least we can do to build this alliance and honor a country willing to put its own blood and treasure on the line in the Middle East in support of the U.S.

  36. Maureen - Wasn't all that long ago when we had Republican senators and congressmembers screaming that the unhealthy but delicious fried sliced potatoes that generally go with the All-American hamburger (super-sized please) should be renamed as "American Fries".

    The general cultural mores, specifically the sexual mores of the French and for that matter, the Brits have always been the envy of most of the U.S. political elite.

    Liberte, fraternite, egalite (sororite). Go Hillarae

  37. No, actually the Repubs wanted the fried potatoes to be renamed Freedom Fries, not American Fries. Remember back then, it was ALL about "freedom".

  38. “We are not a puritanical country. France is Catholic. We accept sin and forgiveness.”
    ------------------------
    Accept? More like "embrace." Certainly, an aberration for the country called "the eldest daughter of the church." During this week's celebration of the Lourdes anniversary, glib ascriptions to the Church about sin are lamentable. "Go, and sin no more."
    Adultery, along with abortion, homosexuality, sexual hedonism generally, and casual divorce as with the oft-married woman at the well, are serious sins. Some are mortal sins, and some are grave sins. None are without consequence -- in this case the hospitalization of Monsieur Hollande's former chippie, and his sad-sack single soiree at the White House.

  39. The whole First Lady idea today is about fashion, presence. Why didn't Hollande escort someone such as Catherine Deneuve who embodies American concepts of grace and beauty and France? Not since Jackie would the gossip media been so embracing of a public figure.

  40. Since she was good enough to serve as the model for Marianne, this would seem to be an ideal solution.

  41. Thank you for the fou-rire, Maureen! Truly a brilliant column, and we need all the comic relief we can get in these dark times.

  42. A slowly dying culture is the last refuge of a once-great nation. France exemplifies this. America, take heed!

  43. Are you sure you didn't you mean to say: "America exemplifies this. France, take heed!"

  44. Humorous essay, although I cannot say that I find the subject matter of much interest.

  45. Humans spend much too much time and effort concerning themselves with the private lives of politicians and celebrities. This silliness is used by politicians to create wedge issues and keep us fighting among ourselves, often voting against our own self-interests. If we don't evolve beyond this stupidity and learn how to get along with each other and help each other we will face a very bleak future. The supposed dalliances of the French president have zero importance in my life - do they really have any on yours, or Ms. Dowd's.

  46. Segolene...Valerie...Julie...beautiful, accomplished women...

    Francois Hollande...meiskeit...what am I missing here?

  47. The money. The power.

  48. “The Americans have no protocol.”

    ...and the French have no sense of humor. (Too easy.)

  49. No French speaker am I
    Though laughed aloud
    When I read your line
    "Many harbor dark
    suspicions that he's
    Irish," speaking of Colbert,
    I could relate--Irish--humor:
    We know the French
    Have always been The
    True Snobs, and Americans
    often wanna-be snobs as
    Snobbery now,
    shall we say
    so passé

  50. I love Paris. I love the French countryside, food, wine and language.

    BUT there is something seriously wrong with a country that thinks Jerry Lewis was funny and Stephen Colbert is not.

  51. Writing as I sip my Sunday morning 'grand creme' in Le Papillon brasserie in the 20th arrondissement in Paris, I can only say "touché!"

  52. Yes to all of the above. Maybe they'd lighten up if we sent them Kim Kardashian?

  53. As Marcel Marseau once said,"............."

  54. You can say all you like about Hollande being married or unmarried, but it's shameful that the affair with Gayet was ever reported in the media. Who's business is it in the first place?

    Once it was reported, then the only available script was that of being outraged by adultery committed by a public official becoming public, even if that script's prerequisites hadn't even been met, and even if adultery itself isn't anyone else's business either.

    So, now many French media, including some who should totally know better, are continuing to follow the question, simply because they don't know any better response to make to this unprecedented situation.

    But the best response to this situation is exactly the same one that applies to adultery itself: it's just not anyone's business who's not personally involved: everyone else should just butt out.

  55. That's the same Gallic indifference that saddled the French with a global reputation for louche behavior -- to the extent of not even defending La Patrie after May 1940. "All that's necessary for the triumph of [adultery] is for good people to do nothing," apropos of Burke. As usual, it's the woman who suffers.

  56. Oh my, I hadn't heard this one: "Why did Mary J. Blige sing for Hollande “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” a famous Jacques Brel chanson begging a lover not to leave?"

    Talk about faux pas, or perhaps double entrendre? This is as rich as it gets, which for honored guest, socialist Hollande-- seated at the state dinner given by the "real" socialist President Obama (ok, in Tea Party eyes)--shouldn't be rich at all.

    Now should it?

  57. "Ne Me Quitte Pas", besides being an awesome song, was the theme song for "Beyond Sunset", the latest movie about a love affair between an American boy and a clever, beautiful girl from Paris, played by Julie Delphy (who was awesome also). While I agree that the lyrics are strangely appropriate, the song was most likely chosen because it featured in this series of movies all about how wonderful Paris, Parisians, Europe, and above all French women are.

  58. That choice of song did seem a little gauche.

  59. Maureen Dowd got it right. It is socially acceptable in France to cheat on your wife, but not on your mistress. Of course many men grow bored with their wife when she reaches a certain age, and some wives accept that, so it is considered sort-of OK, and hey, she is still the wife. But cheating on your mistress is considered a cruel betrayal of her already accepting second-class status, and THEN kicking her out.

  60. '...Of course many men grow bored with their wife when she reaches a certain age...'

    Of course many women grow bored with their husband when he reaches a certain age...do men not realize this is also true?

    Or are French men seriously deluded that Hollande is attractive to any women, except one who sells her favors for money or power? And that this is also true of themselves, by extension?

  61. As someone who is married to a French woman, has a daughter in a dual-language French program in a NYC public school, and am, thus, constantly surrounded by French expats, I must take exception to Ms. Dowd's column. It appears that the leans through which many American journalists and writers view France and the lifestyle and culture of the French, is utterly foggy, and this column definitely suffers from this romantic delusion. Most French people do not behave like this, and there is no accepted protocol of cheating like is described here. Cheating is just as unacceptable there as it is here. It is just as morally reprehensible there as it is here. The difference, is that here, we still hold our elected leaders up to some ridiculous, super-human pedestal, whereas in France, people simply care more about more important things. They don't let themselves get distracted by the actions of a flawed human who happens to be President. The issue with Hollande and why this seems worse to the French, is that he is simply leaving his current girlfriend. He basically is just dumping her. That is the problem,.

  62. Quit beating, this horse is dead. Long live the horse.

  63. The only thing more disgusting then the American media's sycophantic response to British royalty is their irrational attention to French promiscuity.

    Why to you find it cute in the French, raunchy in the Italians and scandalous in Americans? It is all the same bawdy behavior and not newsworthy in any case.

  64. Sadly, the culture of cruelty being created by the Republican Party has pulled President Obama to the right (cutting SNAP is a disgrace to American values), and makes all the schadenfreude over President Hollande's faux pas ring hollow, even with Obama's sterling 'family values.'

  65. Satire is no longer necessary. Between this column and Bruni's, it is obvious that reality will suffice.

  66. Oh my. I just saw "Spamalot." The French taunting had nothing on you, Mlle. Dowd. Very funny.

  67. I actually think France and the French are both lovely, but they seriously need to lighten up. Show a sense of humor that goes a little beyond Jerry Lewis' abilities. Why weren't more French luminaries invited? Oh, I don't know, maybe because they're not that much fun.
    Lagarde is intelligent and probably fascinating, but as a dinner guest, can anyone hold a candle to Colbert?

  68. Ahh! The French and France - love both. Perhaps the old saying after WWII about France/French ("Invisible in War; Invincible in Peace") will come back in style - "Invisible in Marriage; Invincible with a Mistress or two."

  69. Ah, ze French, they are so refined! And ze Americains, so gauche! N'est-ce pas?

  70. François Hollande had two mistresses at the same time: Qué horror !!!

    Ah, Americans love to preach, lecture and expound their ideas of etiquette, protocol and values to the Europeans, the Russians, the Arabs, etc. All of this is based on the legacy of religious beliefs that was established over a very long history that goes back to the founding of America when persecuted for their religious beliefs Europeans left for America to find security in expression of their values.

    Meanwhile back in America there is an abundant and long history of scandals involving sex while being married among politicians, and they are almost invariably male, from both sides of the aisle and at all levels of government and responsibility.

    But do Americans care about these home-grown scandals? … Hey no, it’s a national sport !!! Hypocrisy aside, it is amazing that so many politicians believe that they are free to do whatever they want on the belief that they will get away with it … until they are caught !!! It is equally amazing how power corrupts and warps the minds of these politicians … that they feel that sex outside of marriage comes with the job.

    Before accusing others of misbehaviour … take a long look in the mirror !!!

  71. Actually when the male politicians go astray and the press finds out about it, it usually ends their career....just ask Bill, Elliott, and the other guys. "Diaper Dave" somehow got away with it, but he's from the South.

  72. Dowd, Colbert, America's first family and a little French ribbing all in one column? What more could we ask for. Love it!

  73. From the dearth of comments apparently not too many Americans give a hoot about French presidents’ peccadilloes, or American presidents’ either for that matter. Does that speak well for both countries or neither? It seems nobody really cares except to smirk and be glad it wasn’t them.

  74. A return to brilliance, Maureen. Thank you.

    That you so ably describe the gauche White House and the lack of basic understanding displayed of what in France is no more than a changing of the sheets, and unworthy of a column and then commentary by the great unwashed, in The New York Times, would be notable if Americans had ever bothered to become familiar with how the French view their reality.

    Coming from a family which participated in the French Military experience from 1641 to the Revolution, in the Irish Brigade, of the Army of France, designated as bodyguards to the King, the French ethos, is I discovered, is much different from that of the US. The US has a great deal to learn about the French. And clearly the French likewise; even more so.

    A solution to our mutual misunderstanding of each other is to initiate a final separation, a divorce in effect, whereby the US withdraws our military assets from Europe, except those who maintain the graves of the tens of thousands of our young men who participated in two wars in the past century to keep them free. Let them then, along with the UK and Germany, and their allies, inherit NATO. Then American tax dollars need no longer go to propping up a defense establishment for people who have not the slightest regard, or even a modicum of respect for us.

    President Hollande may be a good President, a nice man; a parent, a father of four kids, a "partner" of three women, who he has jilted, and is yet to be respected? Not by me.

  75. Bryan, I'm sure President Hollande is weeping as he wipes away excess snuff with a cuff as flourished as your comment. It's not like he was toe tapping in a mens room somewhere, or even hiking the appalachian trail. You declare a lack of respect for him and describe a lack of respect by them for us. On my trips to Paris I saw none of that, nor did I see you guarding any palaces.

  76. I love Maurine's work!, what I don't love is how focused we are on the French president's dalliances.
    As we fete heads of states at 1600 tens of thousands are dying or being displaced in the Syria and Africa. Frankly, I wish the heads of states would use their power to intervene rather than toast each other.
    Regrettably, the world beholds an America and it's allies turning their collective backs on the horror brought forth by all too many despots.

  77. Once again, you take off after the French long after the memories of "freedom fries" and their opposition to the ugly war in Iraq.

    Last time you wrote about Paris, it was a barber down the street as your main source lamenting about the morose French psyche.Now you go to a novelist, the tabloid press and a vicomte as your sources about Hollande's love life.

    it's time to stop bashing the French, Maureen, and perhaps go outside of central Paris for your stories about France.

    Have you ever thought that most French don't read the same tabloid press as you or that perhaps they see the whole Hollande episode as comically as we do on this side?

  78. Maybe we should have listened to the French about not invading Iraq. Our French friends could have saved us a lot of grief and expense.

  79. Another French expression that has become part of American discourse, especially that of the attendees of the dinner and their ilk, is "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" (let them eat cake).

  80. This is so nice because it means so little. We know it, the French know it. They have no Fox News, it all just goes away.

  81. So the Maureen we have come too appreciate re-appears. Welcome back.

  82. That's exactly what's kept me up the last few days Ms Dowd

  83. Mo, I have to wonder how it turns out that every single one of your columns turns out to be a snark against Obama, now Mrs. Obama. Do you have a tribal oath lo loath them?

  84. I know he is president but the dude is a total doofus. He lives a life of luxury but wants to tax the French like crazy. He is not dignified enough to conduct an affair discreetly, instead, he rides around Paris on a scooter, wearing orthopedic shoes, thinking he is incognito. Hollande was lucky to get to sit by the first lady and Stephen Colbert. The French think it is rude to have Colbert at the table? I think Hollande is the epitome of rude, thinking of himself as a playboy and spending time in a Real Housewives/Mistresses of Paris drama, rather than running the country. FYI, if he weren't the most powerful man in France, the babes would ditch him in a heartbeat.

  85. Oh, Mon Dieu. I waded through enough French phases in this column to make a up a decent high school language class. (You know, the classes where you weren't expected to learn the language anyway.)

    We once had rules about presidential affairs in this country, too. Presidents did what they thought they could get away with and the White House press corps, and staff, looked the other way. This applied to JFK even when he took to climbing through a window in Georgetown to reach a lover. Or even when Mrs. Kennedy, returning suddenly from a New York jaunt, found him swimming nude in the White House pool with a secretary (no wonder Nixon had the pool covered over: he didn't want the temptation).

    Kennedy's successor, LBJ, had adventures and misadventures the details of which I would rather not be informed. It seems he pawed everything female in sight, so much so that when Lady Bird was asked about one particular mistress, she calmly said that she didn't think the lady, being a bit plump, would have appealed to Lyndon. When your wife grades your mistresses, you know you've gone too far.

    Men who seek power are, by the very nature of their beings, likely to be men of extraordinary appetites. Getting power creates the looming illusion that those appetites should be rewarded. Henceforth, those living in the fishbowl of the White House will never again be allowed transgressions against the lines of conventional behavior, lines crossed by Americans coast to coast with great alacrity.

  86. Thanks for the information that JFK was able to climb through a window. He had a very bad back, you know, and Addison's disease which was also hidden form us at the time. It's amazing the feats one may achieve when driven by desire. LMAO.

  87. President Cleveland's love life was very public and embarrassing for him.

  88. In response to Barbara in Los Angeles, I know it seems out of JFKs range of abilities, but the fact of his window climbing is so well known that it was even alluded to in a movie ten or so years ago. My primary source on this information, in addition to confirming stories that have been spread around and mentioned in various books, was an Associated Press reporter of some renown. Over the years, various stories about Kennedy have become common knowledge in Washington, but, of course, that doesn't mean all of them are true. These two stories, however, have been mentioned by multiple sources. My understanding is that President Kennedy did not want to be seen going through the front door. Perhaps the window was rather low.

  89. I like Jean-Marie Rouart's comment, "France is Catholic." Oh really? Not according to official policy regarding dress code. During the thirty Years War (1618-48) in Germany, France sided with the Protestant states against Catholic Austria.

    As for Colbert being invited to sit where the foreign dignitary's escort is normally seated I agree with the French, but for different reasons. What was Colbert doing there to begin with? He is an entertainer, not a journalist. Besides, Colbert got it wrong when it came to the Clinton-Lewinski affair. Clinton did not sleep with her, he sat.

  90. Bravo Mlle Garcia!

    Very Nicely Done!

  91. Stewart and Colbert should enter the Presidential election - I'll seriously consider voting for them.

  92. They are entertainers. Their job is to make fun, not understand policy.

  93. Under your criteria, Mark Ryan, Ronald Reagan should've never come within a stone's throw of the Presidency. He was an "entertainer", remember?

    Of course, he really shouldn't have become President. That goes without saying.

  94. ' a pol caught up in a melodrama with all the erotic charge of week-old Camambert.' jumps off the page, Maureen. the juicy delights of language. once again, she delivers.

  95. When, precisely, did France rediscover its Catholicism? A more relativist and UN-Catholic people, regardless of their preening, can't be found outside of Rome. Puts us absolutely to shame.

    But it appears that François Hollande these days might be more comfortable in Utah than in France, except that he'd need to convince our Mormons that the real trick is not to actually marry them.

    The situational dynamics aren't particularly funny to an American of the 21st Century -- they're merely very human. What's side-splitting, as Maureen has caught on, is the French reaction to them. But I could have told her over a café glacé that it's all so predictable, which is why Colbert was SO ready for it: the French, like liberals everywhere, are actually quite conservative when their notions of ACCEPTABLE rules are violated. You just need to get Alec Baldwin to bless what is acceptable first. Preferably at some jumbo-shrimp party at his Hamptons estate where he's throwing a party to save the common garden slug.

    And the rumor about Mr. Obama and Beyoncé is so boring. You REALLY want to get the Neanderthals apoplectic, someone should start a rumor about him and Uma Thurman.

  96. '...except that he'd need to convince our Mormons that the real trick is not to actually marry them...'

    Mormon men do not marry the women, women who have been brainwashed from birth to believe they have no use beyond being breeders, and would not marry them, even if they could, because as single mothers these women are eligible for Medicaid, welfare, food stamps, and housing subsidies.

    The men are not stupid. Why not have the taxpayers pay for your aberrant lifestyle?

  97. Too my mind, the mystique of the French, like many other things, has become lost in our globalized, overproduced, overexposed, hi-tech world. Now corporate computers fish each other for all the info they can get. If one desires they could find an affair a nano-second with all the seediness they could ever want, included free of charge.

    By the way, every year, as Asia becomes more developed, Europe becomes more quaint and less relevant. Au revoir!

  98. Karen- What was the President supposed to serve to a visiting president? Cold cuts, pizza, crockpot stew? Get real. Our President is in a no-win situation when it comes to protocol. If he takes the high road, he is being elitist; if he takes the low road, he is uncouth and showing his "roots". If he takes the middle road, every president to date did it better than him.

    Linda- What part of the reality show did the President and First Lady create? The French President's relationship problems caused the whole situation. The American media MADE the situation into the terrible predicament that was portrayed on TV. I am sure that the WH employees in charge of the affair (dinner that is) made many adjustments and proposed solutions that were ultimately approved by the French President's entourage.

  99. "What was the President supposed to serve to a visiting president? Cold cuts, pizza, crockpot stew?"

    Well - "Pizza" is kind of an Italian "dish" and "crockpot stew"??!...

    What's about "Hamburger" -(with a big serving of Ketchup?)

  100. I think that when push comes to shove, if the USA is a true friend to France in trade and policy, this little faux pas of state will be water under the drawbridge. True friends are allowed a little bit of joking at their friends' expense, after all.

    As it stands, the American politcal-press establishment would do well to relearn the lessons usually afforded by the French press when it comes to private affairs remaining private. Any candidate who runs on policy should not be subject to intense scrutiny of their personal peccadilloes. If they run on family values platforms, however, all bets are off--talk about the family and your family shall be scrutinized.

  101. "True friends are allowed a little bit of joking at their friends' expense, after all."

    Absolutly!

    Just last week I was at a party - where my friend Francoise did her favorite expression of her favorite American "Paris" -(you know the one who can walk and talk)

  102. Whassup? -

    Normally the comments are much more funny than Mrs. Doubt's posts? -
    and why didn't Mel Brooks write a response? Isn't he always doing the "culture stuff" for the NYT? - like "The American Precariat".

    Now what would the American Precariat say to this very humorous post of an Irish woman visiting Paris -(the first time?)

    We have to increase mobility that Irish Americans don't fly to Italy to look for "Paris".

    And are you sure you are in Paris? -(and not in Neuschwanstein) -
    and you mixed up the Louvre with Mad King Ludwigs castle?
    -(you know he probably was "gay" -(a "good thing") and at least the French don't mistake Hollande for "Hitler" -(the Pizza delievery guy) - the mistake American make so often...

  103. Please stop feeding the myth that the French are all blase about infidelity. It causes just as much heartbreak and as many divorces over there as it does here. Ugly older men will have more opportunities to cheat if they're rich and/or powerful (right DSK?), and since many are self-centered jerks, many will take them. This attitude of 'he's making us look bad' is also classic narcissism; it doesn't matter what's happening, as long as it looks good!

  104. There is a tidbit of wisdom in this column, perhaps unintended. Marriage provides structure. It is something concrete against which one can rebel. Divorce follows. Without a road map, chaos reigns. Relationships that should never have been in the first place would likely end more quickly if they had the long forced march of marriage as part of the overarching proposition. Too much weight to bear.

    We insist that we want extraordinary people as leaders, but then with equal force we say they should be just like us, just like everyone else. The same, but really different. As marriage crumbles as an ideal of lifelong pairing and social institution, we defend it more intensely and those on the outside, gays, want to climb aboard the sinking ship as quickly as possible. Come ahead. Perhaps you can be of assistance when the ship hits a reef or sinks rapidly to the depths.

    Pure monogamy, as others have said before me, is an unnatural state. Perhaps that is why we wish it on others, to weaken them with the same medicine on which we occasionally gag ourselves.

  105. "Pure monogamy, as others have said before me, is an unnatural state. "

    Unless you're a prairie vole.

    Something to aspire to.

  106. '...Pure monogamy, as others have said before me, is an unnatural state...'

    Of course, this leaves out the fact that 'pure monogamy' is something that is only expected of women.

  107. Only owing to America could I enjoy to see the picture of Strauss Khan wearing handcuffs. It is still the best piece of news concerning France I ever received . This excellent article comes second.

  108. The French President doesn't have a wife? At least he has proven that he's not gay. That seems to be all the people on this side of the Atlantic care about these days.

  109. What a pitiful, pretentious, ignorant babble on France and its politicians.

    In French we have a saying... 'La culture c'est comme la confiture. Moins on en a, plus on l'étale.' - 'Culture is similar to jam: the least you have, the more you spread.'.

    This article is no more than a failed soufflé, just full of air.

    This uninformed column is not worthy of the New York Times.

    David

  110. I still think Ms. Dowd is not ready for prime time as a political pundit for the most influential newspaper in America. She too often wallows in the trivial. When she delves into important issues, she has no historical perspective, instead relying on snark and cheap personal shots--and all those one-sentence paragraphs . Her intent is to amuse and to conjure up resentment. I think she missed her calling as an advice-gossip columnist.

  111. I find not the accents francais on my keyboard. Pardon.
    Insulter le president francais, c'est pas un blague, is not a joke, c'est un grand erreur diplomatique. Un diner d'etat is not a Colbert Report sketch, and President Obama will pay for his faux pas inexcusable.
    Does he find the relations European already difficile? Attends.
    Is it not enough that the ambassadeur americain to Hongrie knows not his Buda from his Pest? Maintenant le derriere du president Obama is vulnerable.
    Le grand philosophe americain Bart Simpson has but one way of saying "Eat my shorts." The French, they have 10,000, et le pauvre Obama, he will hear every variant.
    To sit M. Colbert in the place of the maitresse du titre is not a gaffe but un insult not lost on the French.

  112. And the really revealing aspect of the whole Hollande affair is that had he been an unmarried she we would be reading why-nots and accolades in this column. Just imagine a society so advanced that they could have a woman leader who chooses not to marry and begs to have her private life be just that. In America there has yet to be accepted an unmarried person in the highest office let alone a woman.

    I look forward to that debate in my homeland. Here in Denmark the 1st female PM was attacked in the press because her husband was British, a suspected tax-evader and gay.

    It is far easier for an American president to lie, commit crimes, and bankrupt an economy that it is for him to be unfaithful, unmarried, non-white, non-Christian, or female.

  113. This whole episode shone a light on how ridiculous it is to make a woman of Michelle Obama's (or Hillary Clinton's) ilk "First Lady". Believe me, once Hill is in office, no one will be calling Bill "First Man".

    Presidente Hollande is fabulous. His personal life isn't my or anyone else's business if they are not on a first-name basis.

    The images of Michelle, Pres. Obama and Hollande were far more exciting than those with Sarkozy and his beautiful wife. I get bored seeing the couples coupled up in Washington. Seeing Hollande stag made all the singletons rejoice in the sheer pleasure of rebellion.

    So what if he's a serial cheater/dater/whatever. Isn't most of Washington these days? How many Senators would come stag to dinners if cheating was the litmus test for sitting at the grownup table?

  114. This attitude is why our culture is in the pits.

  115. If cheating worked both ways I wouldn't have any problems with it. But the woman is always to blame, even if she isn't.

  116. Well if many good looking women are willing to sleep with the president of France then he has my respect.

  117. Even with his orthopedic shoes. He must have something going for him....oh, yes, power, there it is. Even dumpy men in dumpy shoes can get beautiful women if he has power.

  118. There is a name for women who sleep with men for personal gain, is there not?

  119. Maybe the French can finally get over they "snobby" ways of the wife and mistress and just go with the multiple mistress thing. It's a Catholic thing you know. Maureen, you've impressed with your French quotes. I imagine even some readers read French.

  120. Too bad we Americans didn't have that wife/mistress ethic when the Lewisnsky/Clinton affair was revealed. It wouldn't have been. And we could have saved a ton of money. I contend Americans are less puritanical than prurient.

  121. That affaire made this country look like a bunch of hypocritical adolescents.

  122. The U.S.-Gallic divide on invading Iraq created a triomphe gastronomique: "freedom fries". No French influence on foreign policy for GWB's band of pre-emptive warriors.

    So now another cultural split in presidential protocol and policy: we straight-laced Americans won't kowtow to laissez-faire amour in the decadent French fashion. Zero tolerance for flagrant flaunting of infidelities.

    Satirical Colbert was the perfect foil for the missing mistress of Hollande. Just not quite as saucy.

    We prefer amour behind the chateau door. And a president who isn't a heartbreaker and a Francophilanderer.

    'Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose'.

  123. Cannot wait for a female president to do the same.

    Merkel please hurry up.

  124. Doubtful that the French apply the same standards to women as they do to men, but we will know for sure when we witness the late husband of a French female president sat her funeral standing next to her lover and their child.

  125. The really beautiful female heads of state, like Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan or Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma end up either assassinated or imprisoned.

  126. Bof.

    This re-hash is as dated as the Jerry Lewis reference. (Really? Are you still on that one? Even after Jim Carrey?) The world is a changing place, Ms. Dowd. We knew our president had chosen not to marry when we elected him. That he should change partners is banal, uninteresting — and above all, his affair (no pun intended). The scandal sheet that revealed it would be contemptible, were it sufficiently interesting to draw that level of attention.

    Here is an eternal value, on that stems from common sense (as do most etiquette rules): it is discourteous in any context to invite someone into your home, and then to insult him by inviting another guest who has made a spectacle of him on national television just weeks prior! Unless there is something we do not know (say, that Hollande enjoyed the Colbert skit and had expressed a desire to meet him), the invitation and placement of Mr. Colbert was churlish. His skit was funny — we take nothing away from his humor, nor from him. But he was probably not an appropriate guest at the state dinner.

    Indeed, it is clear that the list of attendees was more generally drawn to entertain the hosts, and not the person supposedly being "honored."

    It was nice of the Obamas, in their capacity as representatives of the American people, to honor us by inviting our President to a state dinner. But the exchange did not much to puncture any stereotypes, no doubt on either side of the cultural divide.

  127. I agree that a comedian should not have been invited to this or any state dinner.

    Very odd choice.

  128. Sounds more like a Fellini movie to me.

    (Yes, I know he was Italian but they do share a border by the French Riviera).

    Bring on the clowns and the acrobats...oh, they're already here.

  129. I love Colbert but what is he doing at a state dinner, near the President? What a complete farce we have become.

  130. Please Maureen Dowd, please write a column on why Christine Lagarde should be the next President of France (we only have three years to get this up and running).

  131. Did it ever occur to you that Michelle Obama might have made the decision to sit next to Steven Colbert? God knows it would be hard for me to sit through those dinners knowing every move I made would be fodder for FOX news. Maybe she just wanted a humor break.

    Watching that weird FOX guy on (who appears to be wearing eye liner) on The Colbert Report gush on and on about the food and menu while the other poor sap on the FOX split screen makes painful faces was hilarious.

  132. I love Colbert. He's been my hero since the White House Correspondents' dinner when he skewered President Bush AND the 'stenographers' who are now our Fourth Estate. If I had been Michelle, that's who I would choose!

    Michelle is our best First Lady ever as far as I'm concerned. Her husband has disappointed me but never her. And she puts up with an intense racial hatred that is thrown at her day after day after day. Disgusting.

  133. Yes, hilarious to laugh at a paraplegic. Si amusant!

  134. Dowd makes an error in referring to the French press's "referring" to Ms. Trierweiler as Hollande's "concubine." That would imply that it is something out of the ordinary, when in fact that was her status. The press did not seek out a term to describe her out of the ordinary, but simply used the common, descriptive term in French for one in that position vis-à-vis a casual acquaintance. Anyone who has looked at his French auto insurance policy has seen that it covers his spouse or his concubine.

  135. Dear madame Dowd the French have such an attractive civilization dedicated to calm pleasures and general tolerance, their taste in every domain so sure that you might as well put aside your American timidity (to quote the definition recently suggested by monsieur Hollande) to see things as they are: only in becoming a Parisian will you master the art of living.

  136. that's why you keep the differently colored French outside the city?

  137. The fact that Colbert has inserted himself into a Fremch protocol of having mistresses should be most embarrassing for Hollande. I'm sure the 20% who are unemployed in France are deeply disturbed by this fact.

  138. Our unemployment is certainly too high... but by conventional measuring tools and definitions, it is only half of the 20% you say.

  139. Whoever Ms. Dowd' has in mind when she speaks of "France" and "the French" is strikingly different from the many wonderful French friends and colleagues I have had over the years. They include scientists, artists and workers who care far more about their work and its relevance to the wider world than what goes on in the Elysee Palace. But then what do I know, for I do not inhabit the exalted world that Ms. Dowd does, what with its surplus of privilege and time.

  140. Maureen

    Who Cares, I don't. Only the people in Washington care, it gives them something to talk about rather than legislation that might improve our country and move some the 6% unemployed into the work force.

    Good lord get a life.

    Chuck from Ohio

  141. Apparently you do.... care. D'oh.

  142. After reading the description of Hollande as The Living Marshmallow, I looked to find what that term is meant to suggest about him. I found that this French term is applied to Hollande as well: "couille molle". It means "person with little courage or bravery". It seems as though Hollande's conduct takes some nerve.

  143. Oh, Maureen you have such a light touch ! And how elegant for an American journalist feasting on foie gras in Paris to ridicule a French head of state currently visiting the Unitrd States. Such fun !

  144. An amusing column. Poor Hollande. He may be embarrassed, but I'd bet a hundred bucks that six out of ten Americans couldn't tell you who was president of France. Now that's embarrassing.

  145. No, that's not embarrassing. What is embarrassing is that almost three out of ten Americans can't tell you who OUR vice-president is and at least half don't know who the speaker of the House is.

  146. Alas, I'm trying to imagine how the minds of the beautiful women attracted to Hollande work as they picture him riding a horse, without a shirt, ala Putin.

  147. Some women are only attracted to money and power and there is a name for that kind of person, if memory serves.



  148. With his usual lack of finesse,
    François landed himself in this mess.
    Despite his protective head covering,
    Paparazzi were in the street hovering.
    Now Valerie's gone and the show must go on
    Will economy now be recovering?

  149. It's not easy to tell who are worse-American politicians or French. One group seems to favor sleeping with money and the other with women and money.

  150. But only after a nice Foie Gras...

  151. ..and a good wine.

  152. Compared with our moralistic conservatives, the "I work hard to get it" folks who were born into it, and our whining 0.01%'ers (Perkins, you reading this?), I will take Hollande's scandals any day. The image of him on a scooter with a helmet and orthopedic shoes going from one mistress to another in Paris makes me smile.

    At least he is not lectureing me on how to live or condemning people to starve.

  153. In this neck of the woods, morality is just a ten gallon hat. You might say that our so-called conservatives are all hat and no more morality than anyone else!

  154. "so unrefined he might as well be American" ...yes, truly, the most unkindest cut of all. France has fallen upon hard times, indeed.

  155. Two women no matter what culture, is simply high maintenance. One has usually cut you off as they say, or is bored with you.

  156. "In France, having a mistress is not considered cheating."
    "Had (Hollande) been married, this affair would never have been revealed."

    Who ARE these people???

  157. Europeans. With a different set of standards, rules, and code book. Sometimes theirs makes more sense than ours.

  158. Who are these people? You ask.
    WE ARE these people

  159. w84me: '...Europeans. With a different set of standards, rules, and code book. Sometimes theirs makes more sense than ours...'

    They have different standards for men, so it appears that it makes 'more sense' for 1/2 the population, the ones in power.

  160. "Over good wine and small portions..." "... another Gallic paradox, like the one about red wine and foie gras keeping you thin..."

    I could go on.
    No one does snarky better than Maureen.

  161. I rather think that the American way of talking over beer and large service platter portions are a paradox.

  162. If only this were our worst problem. What a luxury...

  163. I'm disappointed that Dowd would waste her space with such gossipy trivia when not too long ago an anti-Hollande demonstration in Paris brought out skinhead types pumping their Nazi salutes shouting, "Jews get out. France doesn't want you," and other such charming anti-semitic phrases. The French are so sophisticated!

  164. The smartest lady on this whole thing is neither Trierweiler nor Gayet but rather his long-term mistress Royalle, with whom he live 25 years and had 4 or 5 kids. She realized she couldn't compete with the Rottweiler (who is about 10 years younger) so she convinced Gayet to help Hollande in winning the elections - obviously Gayette followed the orders and helped him in many multi-dimensional ways and now he looks like an idiot. Wonder what Royalle's next step is - the French are known for viewing l'amour and revenge as being the two sides of the coin.

  165. '...the French are known for viewing l'amour and revenge as being the two sides of the coin...'

    It is a sexist society where men are allowed to do whatever they want and women are expected to be doormats.

    Not something for anyone to admire.

    The real question is why *any* woman would want to sleep with Hollande, who is unattractive in every way.

  166. Actually, Modo, you have it wrong. These are mistresses #2 and #3 for Hollande. You forgot to mention Segolene Royale, whom he never married and with whom he has four children. I wonder how they are taking all this. I wonder what kind of a father the President of France is, in addition to his other bumblings?

    It's not like the French are proud of Hollande. He has record low approval ratings.

  167. First column of Marueen Dowd's I've enjoyed in a long while. She is at her best when comparing cultures and values and perhaps not as good at snarky put-downs. In this column, she makes us all seem a but hypocritical, which I think we are.

  168. "You do not install one mistress at the Élysée when you have another mistress. That is simply bad form." Mo shoots, she scores.

  169. Readers read Maureen Dowd's column, and then denounce the insubstantiality of the topics, of the unworthiness of the exploits of the protagonists described therein. For that response I feel a weary ennui. 8:28 a.m.

  170. "The French have spent centuries making fun of us for our puritanism, and now they feel the unbearable sting of our mockery.." Volte-face est fair-play.."

  171. Maureen! Maureen! Vous êtes le meilleur! The very best at capturing human foibles, contradictions, hypocrisy and yes, humanity! I am saving this one. An instant classic!

  172. “In France, having a mistress is not considered cheating,” he says. “We are not a puritanical country. France is Catholic. We accept sin and forgiveness.”

    English translation- You can do whatever you want and it does not matter.

  173. As goes the song from My Fair Lady, "...the French don't care what you do, as long as you pronounce it properly".

  174. English translation- *Men* can do whatever they want and it does not matter.

  175. You can do whatever you want except plan the number of kids you're going to bear. Anything else goes as long as you buy an indulgence.....

  176. This is old world!

    We now have meet-ups, tweets, serial monogamous and insta-gram relationships. Hollande and his lovers don't even post their torrid moments on Facebook.

  177. A second mistress for variety. That's gilding the Fleur de lis. Only one to a customer, Mac. Lose the orthopedic shoes also.

  178. I find Maureen Dowd's stereotypes of the French to be annoying and stale.

  179. The last full line which also happens to be the last full paragraph got me my laughing for real for the first time.

    Thanks,
    A following reader and "naturally" gay one

  180. Your column was pure fun. thanks.

  181. Granted - this is just a opinion column to make press- who really cares? I'll be upfront - I lived in Paris 15 years, and have 2 french kids. But your article Ms Dowd was pumped out with so many labored French aphorisms, and a strong slant that ignores the reality a large majority of French do not condone their president's behaviour. These are people with families, wives and husbands,too. You should think twice next time, or go find a job at Fox News.

  182. Thank you for your comment from a french woman living in the US. Ms. Dowd, your lack of knowledge of the contemporary French culture is blatant.

  183. Maureen is in good form today and as Gabrielle noted, she is the Dame of Snark--to channel a slight alteration of Gabrielle's comment. Or, to recall a Jonathan Yardley comment long ago, Maureen is the "viperess" of the NY Times. And today her claws were showing....

  184. Viper are snakes. Shouldn't that be fangs.

  185. Correct. Fangs...not claws.

  186. Viva Maureen Dowd....

  187. American presidents had better not think they can do either the proper or improper French thing (according to MD, i.e. if Hollande were only married), nor behave as several princes of Wales and Kings of England have. What MD and the French call Puritanism, one might simply call R*E*S*P*E*C*T.

  188. Trieweiler was called the Rottweiler by her countrymen due to the fact that she started an affair with Hollande while he still lived with the mother of his four children, Segolene Royal, to whom he was not married either.

    The smarty-pant headline "Marry First, Then Cheat" hardly applies here, and the article only proves that Ms. Dowd's first and last love is gossip.

  189. The French are so not fun. They're just too cultured and finessed so when something like this happens they just don't know what to do. Mon Dieu! What a scandal to be caught cheating on your top shelf girl! Breaking out in a good laugh over a middle aged not so attractive man sneaking off to visit his new, younger cherie might be good for the psyche and cure you of that snooty self importance. Don't take yourselves so seriously.

  190. gorgeous and beautiful. yeah sure maureen. and youre not saying that because they're in their forties.

  191. A string of gags without a theme, Maureen. Try again.

  192. Citizens of France, welcome to the 21st century where the "mediocre" and "unrefined" rule.

  193. It's ironic that the French worry whether Hollande is mocked for his mistresses, and that we bother mocking him for that. He's a self-proclaimed socialist. It's hilarious that anyone anywhere would take anything he says seriously, let alone elect him. If the French are to be embarrassed about anything, it should be that they broadcast to the world that their nation is absolutely economically illiterate, though at least it's working out well for the Brits as France's top earners all move to London.

  194. Wow. I guess you do not like socialists. Not at all.
    Of course you are writing from New York.

  195. Please don't gloat. Americans elected W. Twice.

  196. I should only have Hollande's problems. Tres complique et amusant.

  197. Maureen, you saucy libertaire, I must jump out of my Puritanical seat and proclaim, "je suis touché." We Americans prove to be a much heartier stock than the French once again. Now we prove to the world we are funnier and sexier as well. If we say disease, the French may try to copy and cough reflexively. If only it we still the Clinton era, we'd have a fun loving Democratic romp around the proverbial power table.