Roger Cohen's up in the New York Times opinion pages today, working through the disconnect between the sexual mores of France and the United States, examining the "large measure of recurrent friction" (which sounds kinda hot!) between the two nations' relative obsessions with "matter of the heart and the bedroom." Apparently, the French used to be happy, louche, libertines, whilst the Americans a bunch of lemon-sucking prudes, but the distinction has "begun to blur, or even cross over."
Cohen notes that these days, it's French President Nicolas Sarkozy's combustible marital life that's giving his countrymen the vapors, even as Americans are demonstrating that they are pretty much okay with the fact that Barack Obama may have smoked marijuana (apparently, Cohen believes smoking pot is some sort of sex act).
Of course, it's all just fascinating, but what's driving this piece right now? Is it that most of America came to the realization last night that Marion Cotillard was not, as La Vie En Rose depicts, a booze-addled, busted-up Lucille Ball-type with severe anger-management problems, but actually kind of a hottie? No. As always, we look for the buried lede:
As for John McCain's supposed extra-marital "romantic" relationship a decade ago with an attractive lobbyist more than 30 years his junior, who cares? This unproven teaser on another long New York Times piece that was really about McCain's susceptibility to lobbying from the rich and powerful he claims to have taken on, has been widely criticized as an unfair, unfounded or uninteresting distraction from the serious essence of the story.
In other words, Americans care about conflict of interest; they care less about infidelity itself, especially at the level of innuendo or rumor.
It's a nice way of having it both ways: suggesting that critics of Times' McCain story were more or less right, while at the same time fingering the American people for just not being all that into the seamy side of public figures. Of course, this sort of ignores the seemingly unquenchable appetite for the nip-slips and crotch-shots of Hollywood's looser tartlets that even now speeds the soul-deprived paps of the thirty-mile zone across the topography of Greater Los Angeles. Maybe when it comes to McCain, the lesson isn't that we've somehow sated our appetite for sexcapades, but rather, that this is, truly, no country for old men.