The Carla Bruni obsession

Everyone's abuzz about French President Nicolas Sarkozy's ex-model/musician love.

Topics: France, Broadsheet, Nicolas Sarkozy, Love and Sex,

It’s the stuff of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals: A diminutive, cuckolded head of state separates from his ex-model wife of 11 years and gets serious with (possibly even marries!) a younger model, an Italian heiress-bombshell. But French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s beautiful new companion, Carla Bruni, is no mere mannequin; she’s had a respectable post-modeling career as a musician (and, really, “Quelqu’un m’a dit” is a great album for brooding), though Bruni is best known for her parade of high-profile paramours: Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Vincent Perez, Justine Levy’s now ex-husband, to name a few.

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The French already seem bored with the story, but the American media is devouring it with gusto at a time when our own spousal candidates for the White House have failed to generate much controversy. The New York Times deemed Ms. Bruni a “politically dangerous liaison,” blaming the “Carla effect” for Sarkozy’s abrupt decline in popularity. (Seems harsh for the fun-loving country that brought us champagne, Rococo and the world’s most famous mime.) A few days later Times style writer Guy Trebay called Carla a “catch,” declaring the trilingual Bruni well suited for residence at Elysee Palace. Jezebel pondered the sartorial side of the couple, relaying that even Karl Lagerfeld supports the union on aesthetic grounds. Meanwhile, the Economist.com pointedly notes the tres americain, anti-intellectual setting of Bruni and Sarkozy’s first photographed date: Disneyland Paris!

Bruni and Sarkozy have spawned their own strain of highbrow gossip (highbrow because the story is unfurling en francais). All that’s missing is the requisite amalgamate name. (I submit for your consideration: Carlakozy.) Given the couple’s respective track records — two divorces for Sarkozy and an acknowledged preference for polyandry from Ms. Bruni — the odds are stacked against the couple. But let’s enjoy the spectacle while it lasts and refrain from attributing France’s economic woes to their well-documented canoodling.

Megan Doll is a former Salon editorial fellow.

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