Art Goldhammer has a blog post on the news that Valérie Trierweiler—François Hollande’s companion—has been hospitalized since Friday—when François’s liaison with actress Julie Gayet was revealed in the gossip magazine Closer—, for a “gros coup de blues” (i.e. a bout of depression). And the story is leading the news this evening, on the radio and press web sites. Art is dismayed
Suddenly, Hollande’s amorous escapades are no longer a joking matter. It’s hard to see how this can do the president any good. Even the Sarkozy soap opera never descended to such tragic depths. In a quasi-royal presidential system like the French, the health of the body politic itself suffers when the president is damaged to such a degree. I shake my head in sadness.
I entirely agree. I’m getting a little impatient with this French reflex—from politicians, the media, intellectuals, etc—of invoking “le respect de la vie privée” blah blah at revelations of this sort. Now I do adhere to this reflex most of the time, but we’re talking about the President of the Republic here. When the leader of the French nation two-times his Significant Other in this day and age—and rides motorcycles to his rendez-vous galants in broad daylight—, and when this is certain to be revealed sooner or later in the presse people and on countless web sites, it is not a minor matter. It just seems so stupid and reckless. It should not lead to his resignation, of course, but it’s unseemly. It diminishes the man, particularly with his companion in the hospital as a consequence. Hollande recently announced a significant change of course—in his political/economic thinking, at least—in a social-libéral direction and with a major press conference coming up on Tuesday, which he presumably hopes will focus on this. But now everyone’s talking about Julie and Valérie. Quel gâchis.
UPDATE: Oy vey. Mediapart has a scoop—translated into English—on “President Hollande’s secret visits to meet actress; flat linked to ‘organised crime’.”