Today I am going to write about something taking place in France. Have I lost you already? I only ask because I know that many Americans are either thoroughly apathique or completely hostile when it comes to our French collègues. I’ve heard the usual complaints: they live in a nanny state, they don’t believe in working, they hate Américains, they are complete cowards in all their military campagnes, and they have a preference for the kind of cheese that looks like a science experiment gone wrong.
Perhaps the thought of reading an entire article about France fills you with disgust. Perhaps you are still unwilling to give the French credit for “freedom fries” more than a decade after the fact. (There is actually an ongoing dispute about whether deep fried potato strips originated in France or modern day Belgium.) Perhaps you think that the term “Francophile” is synonymous with “socialist”.
Allow me to reassure you by insisting that this is not really a French story at all: it is an age old tale about a politician caught in a sex scandal, full of the kind of details that are sure to reinforce your cynicism, while at the same time making you feel superior to other members of the human race. Are you interested now? I hope so, because that is about the best sales pitch I can give. Continue reading