The Magazine

Obama Family Values

From The Scrapbook

Mar 5, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 24 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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It may feel like a victory to all those new feminist groups who’d decided to campaign over it, but I for one shall be sorry to see my Mademoiselle disappear from official French forms. .  .  .  It’s not that I disagree with everything the brash French women’s groups have been fighting for. But was it really necessary to deprive the French language of such an interesting nuance simply because it gives an indication of one’s married status? .  .  .

Mademoiselle .  .  . always had its own panache, from princess to Grande Cocotte to stage diva. Think Sarah Bernhardt or Miss Howard, Napoleon III’s mistress. In French history, La Grande Mademoiselle (as court protocol correctly styled her) is a true heroine: Louis XIV’s first cousin, Anne Marie Louise d’Orléans, Duchess of Montpensier, led the aristocratic revolt known as the Fronde at the age of 25 against her young cousin’s project of absolute power. The Grande -Mademoiselle led troops, rallied Orléans under siege, and had the Bastille cannons fired against the king’s army.

Or consider the more recent example of Catherine Deneuve, who has always stuck with Mademoiselle:

Never mind that she was married to David Bailey and had high-profile affairs and children with Roger Vadim and Marcello Mastroianni. She was resolutely never Madame. Compare her with Vadim’s earlier wife, Brigitte Bardot, who did become a Madame, several times over. It’s difficult not to see Bardot, who gave up her career early on to devote much of her time to animal welfare and the cause of Marine Le Pen, as more of a victim than a feminist star. By contrast, Deneuve, a style icon and a great beauty at 68, comes off as a winner. When I interviewed Vadim, a surprisingly spiteful serial seducer of great beauties, he was still resentful of Deneuve, decades later, for never marrying him. She had dropped him! .  .  . She went on to have a better career after she left! As far as Deneuve was concerned, calling a woman Madame certainly meant making her walk three paces behind, metaphorically speaking.

Concludes Mlle Moutet: “Far from indicating a kind of mere real‑woman-in-waiting status, Mademoiselle had become pretty useful to sandbag some people into realizing that you are making your own way on your own terms. I plan to keep using it, and intend to encourage my independent‑minded friends to do the same.”

The Scrapbook wishes to join in the Moutet dissent and enter a related one of its own. In its younger days The Scrapbook lived in France for a couple of years (we styled ourselves Le Scrapbook back then), and we retain not-so-fond memories of navigating all the official forms. We recall applying to the police (or was it the prefecture?) for a government identity card, and being sent away after an hour or so in line to obtain notarized proof from the concierge at our lodgings that our address was what we had claimed. Opening a bank account was no picnic either. Examples could be multiplied. Real liberation, for Monsieur, Madame, Mademoiselle, and everyone in between would be some relief from all the bumf imposed on them by Napoleon’s heirs.

Hope and (Pocket) Change

Everyone is assuming an Obama reelection juggernaut, with a well-oiled fundraising machine amassing a record-setting 10-digit war chest. Is it conceivable that -everyone is wrong? Are Obama’s donors bitterly clinging to their wallets this time around? Our longtime colleague Matthew Continetti, now the editor of the newly launched Washington Free Beacon, makes the case that the Obama bandwagon may not be running on all cylinders: 

Obama has found it more difficult to raise money. He has $140 million so far, suggesting that it will be hard for his campaign to match its 2008 numbers, much less its ridiculous rumored projection of $1 billion. The campaign has become more desperate as the money has dried up. You see it in the U-turn on Super PACs, which have gone from threatening democracy to being an integral part in the president’s reelection effort. You see it in the questionable characters that show up in the lists of Obama donors and bundlers: the two brothers of a Mexican fugitive; the former Democratic congressman and registered lobbyist who says he was never a lobbyist; a king of short sales connected to the call girl for client number nine; the founder of Def Jam Records; and Anna Wintour.

If you haven’t already done so, it’s high time you bookmarked the Washington Free Beacon, freebeacon.com. We recommend that you visit the site early and often.

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