HOLLANDE VISIT

Obama’s French affair

 
 
MILBANK
MILBANK

danamilbank@washpost.com

The French newspaper Le Figaro reported this week that The Washington Post was about to break the shocking news that President Obama is having an affair with Beyonce.

The Post has denied the report, but now I can exclusively reveal that the president is indeed involved in a tryst — only not with Beyonce. Obama is having a love affair with France.

The commander in chief pulled out all the stops for French President Francois Hollande’s visit: state dinner; trip to Monticello; mentions of Lafayette, L’Enfant, de Tocqueville, the Statue of Liberty, D-Day and the French Quarter in New Orleans; as well as mushy talk about our “oldest ally” and the “incredible bond” with France.

He gushed about happy times at Camp David and in Chicago with “Francois,” so much so that a French reporter (from Figaro!) asked Obama if his eye had wandered from the “special relationship” with France’s rival.

“You have praised France very warmly today and granted our president the first state visit of your second term,” she observed at a midday news conference Tuesday. “Does that mean that France has become the best European ally of the U.S. and has replaced Great Britain?”

“Oh, goodness,” replied Obama, caught in flagrante delicto. He asserted that his attraction to France was platonic, even paternal.

“I have two daughters,” he said, “and they are both gorgeous and wonderful, and I would never choose between them. And that’s how I feel about my outstanding European partners.”

The French will probably be tolerant of Obama’s multiple partners. The French public has not been shaken by news that Hollande’s longtime partner recently left him after reports of his affair with an actress. (Neither woman accompanied him on the trip.)

Obama’s dalliance with the French is a predictable response to domestic troubles. With his agenda stalled on Capitol Hill, he is following the oft-traveled path of emphasizing foreign affairs in his second term.

Even overseas, there aren’t many friendly options: Relations are tense with China and sour with Russia, Syria is a nightmare, Iraq is a mess, and there are but flickers of hope in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East. The National Security Agency spying controversy has hurt ties with Germany and caused Brazil’s president to cancel her state visit.

But, vive la France!

Eighty-three percent of the French have confidence in Obama, according to a Pew Research Center poll last year. That makes Obama considerably more popular in France than he is in the United States. It also makes Obama more popular in France than Hollande, who commands the support of only about one in five of his countrymen.

Obama could only look good by comparison. The U.S. president is often accused of being a socialist and presiding over a weak economy. But Hollande actually is a socialist presiding over an economy with a double-digit unemployment rate.

Hollande, for his part, seemed delighted to bask in Obama’s relative popularity. He praised Obama’s stand on climate change and lavishly hailed his “example” on economic policy. “America experiences recovery in its growth due to the policy and the political choices made,” he said through an interpreter.

NPR’s Scott Horsley briefly pulled Obama back into his messy domestic situation, inquiring about the latest Obamacare delay. But through the visit, Obama otherwise succeeded in keeping things in the happier realm of foreign affairs. Hollande chatted privately with his friend in passable English; Obama reciprocated by greeting Hollande with a “ bonjour” that was, Obama said, “the extent of my French.” Based on his struggle to pronounce “ liberte, egalite, fraternite,” this was true.

Gone was the “freedom fries” unpleasantness of a decade ago when the two countries split over Iraq; instead, the state dinner menu included Illinois caviar, vegetables from the first lady’s garden, Colorado beef and Pennsylvania quail eggs.

“There are so many subjects I could mention,” a grateful Hollande said in the news conference, “and every single time I would mention one of those issues, I would have to bear witness of the quality of our relations and of our trust.”

It was the sort of love Obama doesn’t get much at home anymore.

© 2014, Washington Post

Writers Group

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

  • EARLY LEARNING

    The imperative is to educate our children

    When the two of us were graduated from high school, nobody seemed to be worrying about China or Brazil or India competing with us as an economy or in education. We took for granted that we were the best in the world in education and the economy and had no reason to believe that would ever change. Everyone seemed to be able to get a job — and to do so with not much more than the bare basics of education.

  • AUTISM

    Learning alongside my daughter, Bela

    My daughter, Bela, who has autism, doesn’t go anywhere without a pair of socks, which is odd because she never wears socks. Rather she carries them around as if they were dolls.

  • GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ

    His words dazzled the world

    Gabriel García Márquez has left us. His was also a death foretold, but no less shocking, because we resist saying farewell to our heroes. And García Márquez, the immense writer, was a superhero of literature.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category