Friday, 10 July 2009

Obama, Sarkozy and a Girl from Ipanema: A Reassuring Look at (American) Presidential Flaws

This just in: here's the link to an ABC video which clears Obama of any suggestion of ungallantry--but not Sarkozy.

One of my mentors commented once that he was always uneasy around people who seemed without flaw. No one is perfect, he would say. Better to have a vice or two that you admit than to have compulsions seething below the surface that you do not acknowledge.

I suppose that’s why Barack Obama’s struggle to quit smoking is, in an odd way, reassuring. The man is so extraordinary that it’s sometimes hard to believe that he has ordinary faults. But a couple of weeks ago he spoke again about his nicotine addiction as he signed an measure designed to protect young people from tobacco advertising “I know. I was one of those teenagers...I know how difficult it can be to break this habit once you’ve started.”

Then this morning Le Devoir (and I imagine other newspapers) carried a Reuters photo of Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and a young Brazilian delegate to the G8 meetings. The two men appear to be looking intently at the young woman as she passes, a real girl from Ipanema.

Now, Michelle Obama seems as much a woman as any man could want and the First Couple seem to have a very strong marriage, but other political marriages have turned out to be a lot of smoke and mirrors. It would be a terrible disappointment if the Obamas were not as deeply committed to each other as they appear.

Does this photo raise that sad prospect? Hardly. I find it rather encouraging even: to me it looks like the US President has all the instincts of an ordinary man. But he’s chosen one of the sharpest women around for his life’s partner, and they’ve stuck together though good times and some bad ones. A passing glance that a photographer caught doesn't count for much weighed against years of partnership.

Can’t say the same about Sarkozy though, with his three wives, an unknown number of flings, and the perpetual roving eye. That’s too much disclosure and not enough self-control.


Anonymous said...

You should watch the video: Obama seems to be watching his footing, not the girl (photography can really trick the eye). Sarkozy, on the other hand, seems a bit guilty (he even takes a second glance)...

Mary Soderstrom said...

Photos can be deceiving. Here's the link to the ABC video. Looks very innocent on Obama's part, but Sarkozy is a definitely giving her the once over.

deBeauxOs said...

You know what? I look at gorgeous women and men who walk by. Anyone who has made the effort to be well-groomed, has beautiful hair, a glowing skin, a friendly smile, a proud demeanour, and - ahem! - an attractively packaged behind deserves to be contemplated with admiration. They are poetry in motion.

Sarkozy however is a slimy looker. His gaze is creepy, as though women he lusts after are oysters he wants to gobble down.