Previously, French privacy laws prohibiting the publication of details related to anyone's personal life served as a red line. But in the past few years, simple business math has rendered this deterrent moot. French publications have come to realize that they can set aside some cash for the inevitable legal action -- which Hollande has already threatened in this case -- and still make a profit if enough buzz exists to drive sales.
Opposition politicians are suggesting that Hollande is a hypocrite because he had promised during his campaign to be "irreproachable." Yeah, so? One would hope that even "irreproachable" people have consensual sex. If you're a politician using this as your hammer to bash your rival, then you're the laziest cat in a political jungle that's never short of ripe, low-hanging fruit, and you should relinquish your place at the public trough to someone who can better fake basic competency.
Opposition leader Jean-Francois CopÃ© of the center-right UMP party -- a politician whose ideas and initiatives I've generally supported -- said in a French TV appearance that the situation was "disastrous for the image of the presidential function," and that it's what the international media is talking about in relation to France.
Someone please hand dear Jean-Francois an empty paper bag and tell him to breathe deeply. If the international media is talking about this, and only this, in relation to France, it's because sex and relationship stories touch on an aspect of the universal human experience to which everyone can relate. Someone in Ohio, for example, might not understand why the French president is standing on a tarmac in Bangui unless the Ohio resident has taken a course on Franco-African history, but it won't take much for the same person to understand a series of photos showing two adults going into an apartment and re-emerging the next day. What's absurd is when the media regard the sex and relationship stories as more important than stories about the economy, foreign affairs, corruption and other topics of far greater significance.
It's not as though the international media would be talking about other things related to France if they weren't currently talking about Hollande's private life. I'd be interested to know which French story CopÃ© feels the global media would otherwise be addressing. Maybe he can use his next TV appearance to tell us what that issue that would be, rather than complain about how a rival's affair is hijacking the national agenda.
I hope that all the self-appointed gatekeepers stop with the finger-wagging before they somehow manage to make me feel truly sorry for a Socialist.