“It’s a girl, but we don’t know her name or any other details. But I believe mother and child are doing well and I suppose that’s all that counts. I’ll be glad when this media circus is finally over. Its made our life pretty miserable this past two weeks. But it’s a happy event and I wish them well,” said Elisabeth, a 55-year-old woman who lives a stone’s throw away from the Clinique de la Muette in Paris 16th district.
On Wednesday evening, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, top model turned singer-composer who is also the French First Lady gave birth to her second child. This is the first time that a French President has attained fatherhood while in office.
The area around the clinic has been cordoned off to paparazzi and other non-residents for days now. Several photographers have paid massive sums of money for a perch in the buildings surrounding the clinic for a glimpse of the presidential baby. But they have so far been disappointed.
The child’s name has not yet been revealed to the nation. President Nicolas Sarkozy who appears determined to adopt a more serious presidential style since his early blunders when he flaunted his wealth and privilege much to the horror of his electorate, was as laconic as his office.
“It is a great joy, all the greater because it is a private joy. I shall leave it to Carla to announce the baby’s name when she is ready. All I can say is that both are doing very well,” Mr. Sarkozy said.
This is Ms. Bruni-Sarkozy’s second child. She already has a ten-year-old son from an earlier alliance with the philosopher and writer Raphael Enthoven. She met Mr. Enthoven Jr at a time when she was the mistress of his father, the publisher Jean-Paul Enthoven, breaking up the son’s marriage in the process. Raphael Entoven was at that time married to Justine Levy, the daughter of writer and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. A heartbroken Justine Levy took revenge by writing a fictionalised tell-all novel that accounts Ms Bruni’s “theft” of her husband.
When she met Mr. Sarkozy, Ms. Bruni ditched the younger Enthoven to become France’s First Lady. Mr. Sarkozy too has a chequered matrimonial career, with three sons from two earlier marriages. The birth of a daughter from all accounts is a welcome event.
Ms. Bruni-Sarkozy has said she will not release pictures of the child and will act to ensure that the press does not publish “stolen” pictures of her or the baby. Some press reports indicate that she has written to newspaper editors and press barons saying she will take them to court if they dared publish any unauthorised pictures. France has strict laws on the matter whereby a person has the right to control “his or her own image”.
However, political observers are wondering if Mr Sarkozy, who is trailing in the political popularity contest – latest polls indicate that Socialist Francois Holland would win by an unprecedented 59 per cent of the vote if elections were held today - will be able to resist using his cute toddler to project the image of a caring, enthusiastic father to boost up the ratings once the election comes really close. Past experience with British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron has shown that the sudden jump in popularity is due to curiosity and the inevitable tug at the heartstrings that a cute newborn inevitably exercises. But they have discovered to their chagrin that such popularity is short-lived and fleeting at best.