Affair of State: Hollande’s Popularity Increases In Aftermath Of Affair

220px-V.Dombrovskis_tiekas_ar_Francijas_prezidentu_(8662374471)-cropFrench President Francois Hollande, 59, appears to have finally found an initiative that resonates with the public. While 80 percent to French citizens view him as ineffective and his massive taxation policies have led to both companies and citizens fleeing the country, his polarity has taken small uptick with revelations of his affair with actress Julie Gayet, 41. The affair reportedly sent his long-standing partner Valerie Trierweiler, 49, into a hospital. It certainly captures a difference between U.S. and French politics. Gary Hart was not even married but a brief dockside party with Donna Rice was enough to sink his career.

Hollande’s approval rating rose to 31% from 26% in the aftermath of the affair’s disclosure.

Of course, a popularity rating of 31% is hardly inspiring and, at a five percent increase, he would require four more affairs to just get above fifty percent. That is a lot even for a healthy amorous Frenchman.

In comparison, President Obama is hovering at a 39% percent popularity, which he blames in part on racial animus. Obama noted that “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president.” Of course, any suggestions from Hollande on how to improve such polls might not go over well with the First Lady.

I do find the difference in how personal lives are treated in the two countries to be fascinating. Affairs have generally been viewed by Americans as the betrayal of a loved one and the ultimate statement of a lack of character in a leader. However, in France, such affairs seem to appeal to some voters, albeit not a majority. I can understand many dismissing such affairs, as they did with Clinton, but these voters actually appear to treat it as a positive reflection on a leader. He seems to confirm the view of Edwin Edwards that the voters would forgive anything short of being caught “in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy.”

The French tend to treat personal lives as personal but stories on such matters are treated as a violation of privacy. Moreover, the public is clearly comfortable with nonconventional unions. Hollande had a 30 year relationship with fellow Socialist leader Ségolène Royal that produced four children. In 2007, however, around the time of Royal’s defeat, they split and a few months later Hollande took up with French journalist Valérie Trierweiler. She was a reporter for the magazine Paris Match and later moved into the Elysee palace with Hollande when he became president.

All of that is unimaginable for an American president. The question is how two countries can have such sharply divergent expectations for leaders and the perceived relevance of their personal relationships.

Do you believe that an affair (even with a partner as opposed to a spouse) is relevant to the view of a public figure?

21 thoughts on “Affair of State: Hollande’s Popularity Increases In Aftermath Of Affair”

  1. Generally highly intelligent folks have addictions of one form or another….. It’s a private matter…. Would JFK have been roasted if he was president in today’s time….

  2. OK… Personally, I don’t want to know the personal lives of our elected officials…. and I think that if they do have an affair, they should NOT be asked to testify about it under oath….

    Now, if we had an elected official who was always lecturing on Family Values, then I would most likely judge that politician rather harshly…. NOT because
    they are right wing… or because they are having an affair….. BUT, because
    they are being hypocritical….

    If they are not preaching about Family values while dipping their toes so to speak….. , then I would say, live and let live….
    Personally, I tend to not trust men in power who are NOT getting any… 😉

    Fact is, we have NO IDEA if Clinton had an arrangement with Hillary…
    Maybe she was frigid…. Maybe she knew he liked sex and she didn’t…. and she allowed him to have a little on the side….
    It was NONE of our business…..

    for people to talk of the vows of marriage as being the most important…
    well…. I think Marriage is more complicated than that…..
    There are people who get into a marriage and find later that
    they do not have the physical intimacy in their marriage that they deserve….
    I think that we should stop viewing having sex with another person as being unfaithful…..

    It is sex…. sex does NOT always mean love…. and love does not always mean sex…. I admire how the French view things like this….

    what about the vow to be a husband or wife???
    and if that partner declines sex on a regular basis????
    When a spouse declines sex on a regular basis, I think that is breaking the
    marriage vows…. To Love honor and Cherish….
    Neglecting and rejecting your spouse is damaging….

    I’m married and if I refused to have sex with my husband, would it be fair of me to make my husband go without because I’m frigid???
    Or, if my husband was unable to be sexually intimate with me, should I do without sex for the rest of my life because he is frigid????

    Now, if my husband were to confide in another woman, and not in me, then I would get upset…. But, sex.. no…. Only if he was refusing to have sex with me….
    I view mental affairs as far more damaging…. Yet people are having these MORE and more now days due to computers…

    Sexuality is a HUGE part of who we are…… We are sexual beings…..
    suppressing our sexual desires is not healthy….

  3. The context in which the affair happens is important. For example: Is the person married? Is he a righ wing zealot who believes he should tell people how to behave in their personal life?
    Has he broken the rules he himself says are sacrosanct?

  4. I admire the comment made by Anonymously posted on MLK and whatnot, and whonot, above.

  5. I have taken the oath to defend the Constitution and the oath of marriage. I repeat, there is NO OATH more important to me than the oath taken @ marriage. The family is the cornerstone of any civilization. No Constitution will survive w/o a strong family ethic.

  6. “But, there is no oath more sacred than the one to be faithful to your wife.” -nick

    How ’bout this one?

    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

  7. I read that interview of Obama. His world is crumbling when he starts playing the race card. But, he played it obliquely, a word to describe his tenure as president, “oblique.”

  8. As usual, pokin’ around in the business of others, instead of mindin’ our own. Most are fiddlin’ while the country burns. Cole’s posting speaks volumes about who we are and what we’ve become, IMO.

    “Gov’t used Surveillance of MLK in Bid to Destroy Him: Now they want us to just Trust Them”

    By Juan Cole | Jan. 20, 2014 |

    Among the ironies of Barack Obama trying to sell us the gargantuan NSA domestic spying program is that such techniques of telephone surveillance were used against the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. in an attempt to destroy him and stop the Civil Rights movement. Had the republic’s most notorious peeping tom, J. Edgar Hoover, succeeded in that quest, Obama might never have been president, or even been served in Virginia restaurants.

    Now that MLK is recognized by all but a tiny minority of Americans (Dick Cheney being in the minority) as a national hero, it is sometimes hard to remember that the Establishment treated him in his own lifetime like a criminal conspirator. He merely demanded the end of Jim Crow Apartheid and equal rights and opportunities for African-Americans with whites in every state of the union. As a result of this entirely reasonable demand, required by the 14th Amendment, he was placed under 24 hour a day surveillance by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As with everything in the Cold War, the pretext was that King might have Communist associates. Just as the NSA grabbing our metadata today is justified by the pretext that all 310 million of us might have al-Qaeda associates.

    King’s powerful “I have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Capitol provoked a frothing at the mouth Hoover to swing into full action against him.

    One of Hoover’s aides wrote in a memo after that 1963 event,

    “In the light of King’s powerful demagogic speech…We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security.”

    At Hoover’s urgent request, Bobby Kennedy permitted the FBI secretly to break into King’s premises and those of his associates and plant bugs. They also bugged meetings where he spoke and hotels he stayed in. Let me repeat that. The reaction of the head of the FBI and the attorney general of the US to King’s dream that little boys and girls of different races would play games with each other was to record his every word and action and those of his friends.

    If that speech can get you that kind of scrutiny in the USA, then why should we ever trust any high government official with our personal information? Most of us are at least as idealistic as that.

    The FBI caught MLK in a couple of extramarital encounters. Hoover, who had profound sexual hang-ups probably to the point of psychosis, hated him with a passion. Having spent his career using the information he gathered on Congressmen to blackmail them, he apparently hoped to use MLK’s “alleycat” “degenerate” (Hoover’s words) against him.

    Hoover, the supreme perv, sent him an anonymous threatening letter:

    “You are a colossal fraud and an evil, vicious one at that . . . The American public … will know you for what you are — an evil, abnormal beast . . . Satan could not do more . . . King you are done . . . King, there is only one thing left for you to do . . . You know what it is … You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

    Presumably Hoover hoped to drive King to suicide under threat of having his dalliances revealed; presumably also MLK would have put together that Hoover had his private life in his files.

    When King was awarded the Nobel Peace prize, Hoover attempted to derail the ceremony by trying to leak the affairs to the press. To their credit, the editors and reporters recoiled from the squalor of the entire matter and refused to touch it.

    The point is that King’s private life is irrelevant to his public demands and his public role. He was demanding constitutional rights for all Americans. Whom he shtupped in his spare time is not germane to the rightness of that demand.

    Note that today’s NSA collection of all Americans’ smartphone records shows who they called and texted and where they were when they did it. All American dalliances are as transparent in those records as King’s were to Hoover. If the US government was willing to try to blackmail King and many other public figures (Hoover always went straight to any Congressman on whom he got dirt and let him know about it, putting the man in his back pocket), then it is willing to blackmail anyone who becomes inconvenient.

    That Barack Obama thinks we’re so naive or uninformed about American history that we will buy his assurances that the NSA information on us would never be used is a sad commentary. Indeed, we cannot know for sure that Obama himself and other high American officials are not being blackmailed into taking the positions they do on domestic surveillance. If the American people do accept such empty words, then I suppose they deserve to have Hoover’s pervy successors in their bedrooms.

  9. Darren, Amen!! I have taken the oath to testify hundreds of times. I MEANS SOMETHING. But, there is no oath more sacred than the one to be faithful to your wife. I reckon that since this unfaithful jerk didn’t marry the woman he gets off on a technicality, but not in my book.

  10. And its not that Bill was playing poker with the cigar. No! We all knew that he enjoyed smoking it afterward. Jeso.

  11. Hey, its France. Frogs do as Frogs Do! It is not like Bill Clinton and his improper use of the cigar. Plus, this woman is a free spirit and not some secretary in the Hollande government.

  12. Perspective-alert: “a little list” of questions to ask “public figures:”

    1. Do they work to shield us from being murdered by drones? to provide safety in the neighborhood? to repel attacks from the wild Canadians?
    2. Do they work to make ALL holders of any kind of power accountable?
    3. Do they work to provide air we can breathe?
    4. Do they work to secure drinkable water?
    5. Do they work to keep the food supply edible?
    6. Do they commit to protecting human privacy?
    7. Do the demand just legal procedures?
    8. Do they sleep in jammies or nighties or naked? Wiith whom? and when?
    Mix-and-match: the French amygdala? Puritan amygdala? Pelvic amygdala? Heaven help us all.

  13. The French have it exactly right. The ridiculous pantomime over Bill Clinton, which led to an impeachment trial because he lied about private matters, laid bare the essential puritanism and hypocrisy of American public life.

  14. The affair reportedly sent his long-standing partner Valerie Trierweiler, 49, into a hospital. It certainly captures a difference between U.S. and French politics. Gary Hart was not even married but a brief dockside party with Donna Rice was enough to sink his career.

    Hollande’s approval rating rose to 31% from 26% in the aftermath of the affair’s disclosure.” – JT

    “It takes a village to raise a child.”

    A different cultural amygdala is developed in each different society.

  15. As long as the participants understand the rules of the relationship I don’t see a problem of betrayal. If married it should be a part of their vows, at least that part about forsaking all others should not be in the vows. Also, what’s good for the gander is also good for the goose. The relationship isn’t likely to survive unless there are children involved or the politician convinces his/her partner that it’s in both their interests to ignore infidelities.

    btw, Gary Hart was finished because it WAS an extramarital affair and he had challenged the press to catch him and report it.

  16. Calvinism has never had the appeal in France that it has enjoyed in this country.

  17. My beliefs are that if a politician cannot be faithful to their partner, they cannot be trusted with the responsibility given to them by their office.

    If both partners agreed to only sleep with each other then it should be respected and no cheating. And for those who are corruptable for the sole relatively small reward of getting sex, and breaking the trust in their own spouse or partner, how trustworthy can they be when their office will provide a great opportunity to be bribed or otherwise persuaded to break their oath of office and engage in corruption.

    It’s a similar standard as applied to people when employed as police officers, those with security clearances, or those handling large finances or giving financial advice to individuals. If those persons commit the act of theft or perjury their careers are over and they can be barred from employment due to breach of trust and when those situations there is a risk of them reoffending, or at least the worry is.

    So to me a person that cannot be trusted should forfeit their right to certain positions in society.

Comments are closed.