The French have long tolerated adulterers, liars and hypocrites in their politics. A simpleton is another matter, and President Nicolas Sarkozy's public frolic with a former model and singer of heavy-breathing songs does not speak of emotional complexity.




A divorced man of 52, Sarkozy says all this is a private matter. Fine, but then why take the 39-year-old Carla Bruni on state visits to socially conservative countries, where such unmarried coupledom is frowned upon?




"That's France for you," a male friend reasoned. Actually, it's not. The French like order.




Their president's need to push his love life onto unwilling audiences is causing international friction. And since the damage is so unnecessary, you wonder whether Sarkozy hasn't got a few screws loose.




Sarkozy entered office last May as a heroic modernizer of France. Now, the modernizer turns out to be a modelizer.




"Sex and the City" devoted an entire episode to modelizers, men who date only models. The character Carrie said of one, "The man had slept with half the perfume ads in September's Vogue."




Sarkozy's second wife, who walked out on him in October, had modeled some. Bruni has done it big time, appearing in about 250 magazine covers.




The modelizer's agenda is to advertise his ability to attract certified beautiful women. His "conquest" must always be recorded &

hence the photos of the French president strutting with Bruni on a beach, he in trunks, she in bikini.




What complicates this romantic picture is that the beach happened to be in Egypt, a country that welcomes neither nakedness nor cohabitation. The Saudis recently ordered Sarkozy not to bring Bruni with him to the Islamic kingdom. And India's government is fretting about a planned trip that could include snookums. Why couldn't he just leave the girlfriend at home?




Rumors are flying that Sarkozy has married Bruni, and by the time you read this, the deed may have been done.




But suppose they got married. Would that clean her up?




Bruni is sexually ambitious, having hooked up with famous rockers and intellectuals alike. While living with a French publisher, she also "did" his married son.




And she's talkative. Bruni discusses her sexual philosophy at length and likes to promote polyandry &

in zoology, a mating pattern in which the female couples with more than one male in a single breeding season.




This is a private matter between Bruni and People magazine, one supposes. But you do have to marvel at an allegedly savvy politician who would put a lamp shade on his head because Lulu's back in town.




American politicians seem paragons of sophistication by comparison. They usually don't flaunt their sexual adventures before the voters. While Bill Clinton misbehaved in spectacularly vulgar fashion, he never intended his carrying-on to become part of the public record. Several of the current Republican contenders for president traded in wives for younger versions, but they kept the process fairly discreet.




The one crashing exception is former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who took his mistress (now third wife) to business meetings at the official mansion while his wife and kids were upstairs. His opponents use this behavior as evidence of instability &

and they have a point.




Never getting it, Sarkozy has railed against journalists who knew about his predecessor Francois Mitterrand's long-term affair but left him alone. Well, the affair was pursued quietly, and the lover was a proper mistress. She generally did not pose with Mitterrand for the cameras, unless the shot of her alongside his coffin counts.




So the French now have as their "first couple" an exhibitionist president and bad girl who loves publicity. Sarkozy's term ends in 2012.




To find out more about Froma Harrop, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at .