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May 26, 2011

G-8 Optics: After Strauss-Kahn’s Crash-and-Burn, Sarkozy Making Hay Off Trophy Wife’s Baby Bump?

<em>(Definitely click for full size)</em>
(Definitely click for full size)

In a scene that could have leaped from the screen of television’s Mad Men, the spouses of the leaders engaged at that G-8 summit prove that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Sporting understated heels and feminine skirts (Geertrui apparently did not get the memo), the wives pose dutifully—Only Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s baby bump can divert their attention.

No doubt President Sarkozy is happy to showcase his wife’s condition in a news week peppered with tawdry sex scandals and their consequences (Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Edwards . . .). Time has chronicled the feud fomenting between Sarkosy and Strauss-Kahn, pointing out the way in which sex and scandal has figured prominently in French presidential politics. Prior to the most recent scandal, Strauss-Kahn had recovered from a number of minor indiscretions. According to Time, he was determined to “dedicat[e] himself to his increasingly urgent (and much applauded) IMF response to successive economic crises around the wold,” and also to “restore his image as a dedicated husband.” The plan resulted in climbing approval ratings in France, reportedly to the “horror” of Sarkozy supporters.

With Strauss-Kahn’s presidential aspirations now extinguished, Sarkozy no doubt still enjoys showcasing Bruni, but with a new twist — familial bliss. Carla has always been a “trophy wife”—the supermodel-turned-political wife is the most glamorous spouse on the international circuit since Jackie Kennedy. In this photo, in her impeccably stylish white dress, with just a hint of pregnant belly (even her ankles have the good sense not to swell), Bruni figures as an idealized Madonna.

– Karrin Anderson

(photo: Virginia Mayo/Getty Images caption: French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (C) stands with (from L) Maria Barroso, wife of European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Laureen Harper, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Stephan Harper, Geertrui Van Rompuy-Windels, wife of European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Svetlana Medvedeva, wife of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pose for a family at the Villa Strassburger on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Deauville, western France, on May 26, 2011.)

  • bks

    Blah.  And the men were all wearing business suits. BFD.

        –bks
     

  • bks

    Blah.  And the men were all wearing business suits. BFD.

        –bks
     

    • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

      bks,

      I know you’ve been more interested in the Fukushima posts and we’ll be bringing you more on that given the fact the media and the US government remain disinterested, the situation remains uncontrolled and TEPCO still keeps churning out pictures. Regarding your comment, though, I think the sexual politics in France is highly relevant, especially given the election cycle. Whether we’re talking about how Sarkozy positions his wife to play on public sentiment and leverage the opposition or whether he decides to launch airstrikes on Libya in advance of the coalition having formally given a green light to do so, in each case, it’s as much about shaping perceptions and making the leader look good/powerful at the expense of public interest and welfare.  
      Sexual politics is a powerful instrument men in power (aided by their PR muscle) wield every day. To bring it closer to home, just think about how abortion rights are eroding in the US because people are too willing to accept the subterfuge around code words, cryptic arguments and, yes, images deployed to reinforce an idealized picture of family, femininity and sexuality. ”Check out my belly” isn’t at all equivalent to whether Obama happens to be wearing a grey suit or a blue suit. It’s a classic “family values” play, it’s brilliant propaganda and to dismiss it is to only encourage more. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=810889128 Molly Whipple Douthett

    An idealized Madonna…. why do I have Like a Virgin running through my head?

  • bks

    Oh, I absolutely believe that sex makes the world go around –ask DSK, John Edwards or Newt Gingrich.   Why else would women wear high-heeled shoes and men wear stovepipe hats?  Well at least we don’t have to wear the stovepipe hats anymore; just shave our heads and tatoo our necks.   I just found this particular picture unilluminating.

        –bks

  • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

    Fair enough.

  • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

    Fair enough.

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