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Dana Kennedy

Dana Kennedy

Posted: January 7, 2008 06:45 PM

Hillary Chokes Up -- Carla Bruni Would Approve


On first glance, steely, determined Hillary Clinton has nothing in common with the Italian-born, Parisian-bred temptress Carla Bruni, who began dating French President Nicolas Sarkozy last month and is said to be marrying him in February.

Bruni's calling card is her gorgeous baby face and well-honed aura of fragility and vulnerability. Hillary's got those pantsuits.

Bruni, 40, a former top model turned singer-songwriter, often talks about how nervous and timide she is in interviews. She said she was distraught and almost had a breakdown when her first album, "Quelqu'un M'a Dit," became a huge and unexpected smash in France more than three years ago.

Clinton and Bruni embody two different kinds of women: those who wear a scarlet V for Vulnerable on their heart and those who don't. Those who cry in public and those who don't.

I usually scorn women who cry. And I've found that women who advertise their fragility are the first to put the carving knife in your back.

But when I saw the video of Clinton welling up in New Hampshire, I thought, bingo, it's working. I like her more. I'm back to rooting for her again. Damn that Obama.

Maybe we can all learn a lot from Bruni, who despite her Italian blood, puts the f's in femme and fatale. In fact, I did just learn something about Bruni, from someone who has known her and her family a long time.

"Elle est calculatrice," my friend said. One of the most calculating women he's ever known. "She's tough," he said. "She really knows how to get what she wants. "

Hillary Clinton is tough and knows how to get she wants -- or she has up until now -- and she doesn't hide it. Just the way a guy wouldn't hide it. I admire that. But I also think it's why so many people hate her.

Which is why channeling a little bit of Bruni right now is not a bad idea.

Three years ago, a French friend told me Bruni was the woman every French woman wished they could be.

She's the stepdaughter of a wealthy Italian industrialist and heiress to the Pirelli tire fortune. Mick Jagger ran off to be with her when Jerry Hall had just given birth. She also dated Eric Clapton, Kevin Costner and Donald Trump.

But her French conquests were more scandalous. She was living with Jean-Paul Enthoven when she dumped him for his son, a philosophy professor named Raphael Enthoven.

Raphael, in turn, ditched his wife, the novelist Justine Lévy, the daughter of the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy. Justine Lévy then wrote a book involving a woman who steals someone's husband and called her a "praying mantis" with a "Terminator smile."

Bruni, who's just back from a PDA-filled romantic holiday with Sarkozy in Egypt, is currently splashed over every glossy magazine cover in France.

Pictured in teeny, white short-shorts and a straw hat while playing the piano, Bruni smiles winsomely from the cover of this week's French Elle. The headline reads: "Une Star a l' Élysée? L'Incroyable Saga d'une Femme de Passions."

The Élysée Palace, of course, is the French White House. Carla Bruni is on track to be living there after a presidential campaign that's lasted, um, less than a month.

C'est la vie.