French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid a call on President Obama today -- a meeting in the Oval Office and a working lunch. Sarko is lately the president of the G20, and he is very interested in monetary policy and global economic issues and related matters of great heft.
But oh, gosh. There was that other matter that could not have made things really much easier between the two heads of state: That pesky WikiLeaks dump of US diplomatic cables that characterized Sarkozy as an erratic, impulsive, extravagant, unpopular nut:
From the Guardian:
A series of classified US memos depict the French president as a self-absorbed, thin-skinned, erratic character who tyrannises his ministers and staff. He is portrayed as undiplomatic, hyperactive, sometimes uncouth and in need of careful handling, despite being the most pro-US French president since the second world war and a brilliant political tactician.
Voila! And more:
The same memo worried that midway through Sarkozy's five-year term, his staff were unwilling "to point out when the emperor is less than fully dressed". The president "has few restraints – political, personal or ideological – to act as a brake on his global ambitions". He promoted those "prepared to adopt his policies" and marginalised those "with a diverse view", demoting ministers for disagreeing with him.
Some of the older, Bush-era memos described Sarko as dark and unhinged during his divorce from previous wife, Cecilia. His subsequent marriage to the fabulous Carla Bruni was sniffed at by US officials as "a major miscalculation in image management" and also, "glitzy."
Meanwhile, while the two leaders were doubtless avoiding the subject altogether, their wives were having their own, potentially fraught lunch.
A book by two French journalists last year claimed that Michelle Obama told Bruni that life as first lady was "hell."
Both the East Wing and the French embassy denied the conversation took place.