In the manner of Art Buchwald's famous column explaining Thanksgiving's Day to the French, which was reprinted every year for decades after its 1953 debut, I would like to explain to readers of Le Monde why Mark Sanford is news in the USA.
Here's the QPFD (les questions démandés plus fréquentes -- or frequently asked questions):
Q. Quelle hypocrisie ! Dans un pays avec ce taux de divorce, les affaires extra-conjugales seraient-elles rarissimes ? (No translation needed, just imagine a French man with handlebar mustache and beret dropping his paper on the outdoor café table as his arms raise with indignation demanding vengeance from the heavens.)
A. My dear François, extramarital affairs are not all that uncommon in the USA and the divorce rate is high. The real puzzle, however, is the fact that all surveys (sondages) since Kinsey's have found that men cheat (tromp) more than women, leading me to wonder whether adulterous women take on several lovers to offset the imbalance (déséquilibre). (Hence Sanford's trip to Argentina [la terre du tango] in search of illicit love.)
Q. So they are normal men. But being punished they want a revenge on their fellows, what a nice mentality!
"Normal" in France, as I understand it, involves presidents who must either have suitable number of mistresses (maîtresses) to stay in power or else wives who are incurable man-chasers. Unfortunately, my friend Pierre, that happens only in France.
Q. I wonder whether the notion of lying is always used for sexual stuff, no? The reason or the cause of Clinton's problem has always said to be because he lied (not because he had sex with Monica) which appears to be a wide hypocrisie. Do you have other examples?
Lying (mentir), my adored Fifi, isn't always about sexual things (les choses sexuelles). I'd bet that Clinton subscribed to the school of thought that what Monica did to him and his cigar did to her was not "sex." To him these deeds did not encompass the act that the Founding Fathers (les Péres Fondateurs) had in mind when they referred to "sexual Congreff" (l'Asamblée carnale), where we got the tradition of lobbying (le lobbying).
Q. Why private life has to do with politics? OK the guy had not to boast and to defend about familiy values, right, but we think that if politicans's private life was respected, there will be much less problems.
Jacques, Jacques, Jacques! This is the land of the Scarlet Letter (la Lettre Écarlate). If Republicans didn't make hay (le foin) out of the immorality ascribed to everybody else, on what platform would they ever be elected: balanced budgets? peace and prosperity? fair taxes?
Q. Et Abe Fortas ... had he to renounce because he lied about his payments. Or was it merely what we call "délit d'initié", when someone has hidden interest ? (Which is not lying.)
Ah, ma belle Louise, you have studied our history well. But here lying about money is still lying. Especially about money (l'argent), which is ten times more important than sex.
Q. I have always been very suprised that apparently all Americans finally accepted Bush lying about the supposed weapons; nothing happened to him as it happened to Clinton. He lied. OK he lied. Too bad. Period. End of the story. That is why I dont really believe that lying is such unforgivable in the USA.
Hmm ... interesting point. Nothing happened to Clinton, either, now that I recall. It was Gingrich and Livingston, the Right Wing nut witch hunters (les chasseurs de sorciéres de l'Aile Droite noix) who had to quit because of their affairs (liaisons condits).
Q. Irangate. That sounds to be a very complicated story, but lying does not seem to be the main fault, was it?
Sorry, but I was out of the loop, Michélle.