One of the world’s most fascinating people is surely the first lady of France, Carla Bruni. She dined with Queen Elizabeth II last week. Amid all the glamorous guests, glitzy table setting and diamonds, it was she who sparkled most.
What follows has no apparent connection to our beat – money. Nor does it have any particular connection with anything. Still, women represent half the human population. As poets, we are fascinated by them. As philosophers we are intrigued. And as economists, we cannot ignore them. Mr. Sarkozy’s wife is a woman, but not just any woman; she seems to us to be a kind of überfemale. Almost unnaturally gifted, talented, beautiful and corrupt.
The trouble with economics – one of them – is that economists are almost all male. And thus they are completely incapable of understanding the motives or methods of half the population they are meant to be studying. That is why we turn our attention to Carla. She is such an extreme example of womanhood, perhaps we can learn something.
For readers who have not followed the French press, Ms. Bruni is an extraordinary subject. The French say she is a “croqueuse d’hommes” – which is to say, a man-eater. It was she, according to the press, who had such an affair with Mick Jagger that it destroyed his long marriage to that tough, smart and talented Texan, Jerry Hall. And it was she, too, who is said to have had affairs with Eric Clapton and Donald Trump. Then, she lived with a French philosopher, Jean-Paul Enthoven, until she took a fancy to his son, Raphael, with whom she had a son, Aurelien. Nor was she particularly demeure about the whole thing; she wrote a song called “Raphael” describing how she had fallen madly in love and had great sex with him.
She is so “properly, old-fashionedly beautiful,” writes India Knight in the TIMES of London , “with non-inbred aristocratic features and good bones; so beautiful that she makes everyone else look like pudding.”
Not only that, she speaks three or four languages… comes from a fabulously rich family… and can sing. At the Queen’s state dinner, practically every one of the hundreds of guests had seen her naked photo in the tabloids the day before. Yet, she was reportedly the most composed, most confident person there.
According to reports, she is irresistible at every level – intellectually, emotionally, sexually and artistically. What’s more she lives around the corner from your editor’s Paris apartment.
“I saw her go by last night,” said a neighbor on Saturday. “She had a whole squad of police with her.”
“Why doesn’t she move into the Elysee Palace with her husband?” we wanted to know.
“Apparently, she likes to keep her independence.”
Madame Sarkozy is like no first lady France has ever seen. Nor is she like any first lady any country has ever seen. She says she finds monogamy “boring.” She further observed that “love lasts a long time, but burning desire – two to three weeks.” Here is the world’s most desirable woman – married to a cad. But she is the perfect political prop… a woman who plays her role superbly – according to the local gossip, both in public and in private – and who otherwise goes on her way and amuses herself.
What do other women think of her? Around the corner, from what we hear, they barely let their husbands out of sight.
Your editor is an old-fashioned fuddy duddy; he admits it. He turns his tired eyes to politics, economics and finance – and sees only frauds and mountebanks. But when he comes home at night, he is charmed. In the newspapers, he regards the chatter on the editorial pages as all lies and claptrap; but at home he believes every fairy tale. When his broker proposes a hedge fund with a leveraged portfolio of private equity deals, he practically laughs in his face. But when his priest promises him everlasting life, what reason has he to doubt? And when his daughter says, “Oh Daddy… I just dropped by the office to say hello,” he’s delighted, scarcely noticing that she leaves with $50 to buy a new pair of blue jeans.
There is a place for cynicism, he says to himself, and a place to believe. Poor Carla doesn’t seem to know the difference.
Still, she lives so close by. Better to keep an open mind. Besides, says your editor remembers that he has a couple weeks of vacation coming up…
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