Sunday, October 28, 2007
Via Art Goldhammer over at French Politics comes word that Nicolas Sarkozy walked out of his "60 Minutes" interview with Lesley Stahl after she asked him about his divorce from Cecilia. In the "60 Minutes" clip, you can hear Stahl wondering outloud, "What was unfair?", to which Sarkozy responds by basically giving her the French version of "Talk to the hand, girlfriend."
Two things. First, while it's true that French political culture respects the boundary between a politician's public and private life more than in the States, Sarkozy is the French politician most identified with putting his personal life in public view. During his long rise to power, Cecilia was never far from his side, and was considered one of his closest advisors. Her trip to Libya to negotiate the release of the Bulgarian nurses was considered an official state mission.
Second, by many people's best guess, Sarkozy wasn't above using the announcement of his divorce -- which he dangled for three days before finally officially announcing the day of the first major strike in protest of one his reform packages -- for his own political advantage. Needless to say, the top story that night on the news was Sarkozy vs. Sarkozy, not Sarkozy vs. the unions.
So while I've yet to hear the exact wording of Stahl's question, in some ways the Sarkozy's divorce -- at the very least inasmuch as it effects his access to a close collaborator -- is very much fair ground. His reaction shows the "dark side" of a man known for seduction but capable of strong-arm tactics. Simply put, the guy likes to get his way. When he doesn't he can be brittle and crass, both of which are on display in the clip.