We still do not know which First Lady French President Francois Hollande is going to bring to dinner at the White House next month, but at least Hollande has finally — on Thursday — visited his first First Lady, Valerie Trierweiler, at a Paris hospital where she was hospitalized after news leaked out that he was having an affair with second First Lady, actress Julie Gayet.
Perhaps further complicating the affair could be rumors that the second First Lady could be pregnant.
But, USA Today:
Europe-1 radio reported Thursday night that Gayet told the radio station by telephone that rumors she is pregnant are untrue. Gayet has not spoken publicly about the matter, and her agent and lawyer have declined to comment on her private life.
Today, while USA Today sheds some light on previous romantic affairs by French presidents, the question still remains as to which First Lady Hollande will bring to dinner especially since, according to USA Today,
The French first lady does not have the same official status as her counterpart in the United States. When asked recently if France should formalize the position, the former head of the opposition Union for a Popular Movement Party, Alain Juppe, joked that the country would have to “create a status for the first lady and for the second lady as well.”
But that doesn’t help the White House protocol office — is there such a thing?
While in France romantic escapades by political figures are not a big deal, French president François Hollande’s ongoing romantic “scandal” — in American eyes — could present big problems for the White House as it plans for a state dinner next month for Hollande and his First Lady, or his “First Girlfriend,” or his current girlfriend.
You see, Hollande’s current “First Lady,” former political reporter Valérie Trierweiler — who is not his wife, but rather his partner — is currently hospitalized “for shock and exhaustion over the weekend“ after Hollande’s affair with 41-year-old French actress Julie Gayet became public, according to The Hill.
The French president is slated to visit the U.S. next month and to attend a White House state dinner and the president’s “burgeoning sex scandal is emerging as a diplomatic headache for the White House amid uncertainty as to whom exactly François Hollande plans to bring to next month’s state dinner.”
The Hill continues:
Asked if Trierweiler was still the first lady of France, Hollande told reporters that it was “neither the time nor the place” to make an announcement but promised to do so before the Feb. 11 state visit.
“Everyone, in their personal lives, can face struggles,” Hollande said. “That’s our case. These are painful times.”
In what is titled “Monsieur le Président plus one for White House state dinner,” The Hill writes:
But it poses some serious protocol questions about whom Hollande can actually bring as a guest — and how they’ll be received. When the White House announced the invitation last month, it was addressed to “President Hollande and Valérie Trierweiler.”
However, White House spokesman Jay Carney says, “There are no changes…The president looks forward to seeing President Hollande for the state visit in February. On issues of the delegation that the French come with, I would refer you to the French government.”
And Hollande? “He responded that he would make clear who the first lady is before leaving for Washington in a few weeks,” according to the New York Times, which adds:
The liaisons of French politicians and their demands for privacy are viewed as more acceptable than they are in the United States, which has a more puritanical approach. And as important, the French president still enjoys some of the respect that used to be due a monarch, so his private life is not a matter of discussion unless he chooses it to be.
Anita McBride, the former chief of staff to former first lady Laura Bush, says, according to The Hill, “People in the White House social office are experts at rolling with the punches. These issues are not issues.”
The Hill adds:
Visiting foreign leaders are traditionally seated at the first lady’s table for State dinners, while their spouse sits next to the president. That would leave an empty chair next to Obama if Hollande comes alone, but McBride said there’s easy ways around that.
“They probably have a Plan B in place,” she said. “They would put someone else at the president’s table.”
What do you think?
A tempest in a théière.
A no-win situation for the White House.
There are more important issues to worry about.
Lead image: www.shutterstock.com
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.