Political moves

Broadsides from the pirate captain of the Jet Set

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I know few politicians and speak to even fewer — Lady Thatcher and Lord Tebbitt being the exceptions — so I’m hardly the one to judge whether being a cuckold is good for one’s political career or not. I am, of course, talking about Nicolas Sarkozy’s marital problems, and the fears expressed by the British press that his career might be in jeopardy as a result. That’s the Brit press for you. It simply does not understand the French, c’est tout. The great Napoleon was greatly cuckolded by Josephine and, after his fall, by Marie Louise, and it certainly didn’t stop the Bonaparte legend or adoration of his person by his subjects. Even after some tart told the post-Waterloo world that Wellington was ‘de loin le plus fort’ — which of course she would, wouldn’t she? Marie Louise quickly forgot the emperor once General Graf von Neipperg went to work. The priapic Austrian stuffed her non-stop in Geneva and fathered numerous children with her. (Metternich’s the one who thought that one up.)

No, France’s interior minister is in trouble because of the rentrée chaude that September promises, and not because his wife Cécilia has been cavorting with one of his closest backers, the Moroccan-born Richard Attias. Yes, sure, Mitterrand’s various mistresses worked in his favour and were seen as evidence of his virility, but that’s because old Fran