France as a Woman: Her Presidents as Her Lovers

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liberty leading the people

In an intriguing and possibly (nay probably) sexist article for Foreign Policy Eric Pape goes on an extended metaphor of France as a woman and the list of presidents in the 5th Republic (from 1958-present) as her lovers. This is in response to the election of Francois Hollande, the Socialist candidate, over the incumbent Nikolas Sarkozy.

It's really informative and the metaphor actually works. 

Here he is on Jacques Chirac (1995-2007):

But over time, Chirac proved to be the political equivalent of Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men. (Chirac, whose numerous quick trysts spurred his former driver to nickname him "10 Minutes, Shower Included," was similarly promiscuous in politics, making promises to all even when he had no intention whatsoever of keeping his word.) Still, he was a lot more fun than his sardonic, professorial Socialist competitor in 2002, Lionel Jospin, and thus France made the improbable decision to stay with Chirac a little longer.

By the end of Chirac's time at the helm of France, his charms (like Sheen's) had long ago worn away. The movie-star handsomeness had evolved into something, well, a bit sad. So France did what so many people do after a bad relationship: She went for something totally different. It wasn't just that Chirac was tall and contemplative while Sarkozy was short and frenetic. Chirac was a stay-at-home guy who wouldn't even repair the door handle; Sarkozy wanted to move France to another home, perhaps even to America.

Pape's reads on Francois Mitterand (1981-1995), Sarkozy (2007-2012), and Dominique Strauss-Kahn are really spot on. Hollande is the 'nice guy.' I guess we'll see. Regardless, check out the piece.

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