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Strauss-Kahn arrest: Even the French are dismayed

The French are shocked at the sex-crime charges against potential French presidential candidate Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Yet they would yawn over Arnold Schwarzenegger's infidelity.

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Even the French – so nonchalant about dalliances by public figures – are shocked at the charges of sex crimes brought against Dominique Strauss-Kahn in New York on Monday.

Before his arrest on a Paris-bound commercial jet last weekend, the chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was expected to soon announce his candidacy to become president of France.

The difference in French attitude about this case is, of course, the alleged violence. Mr. Strauss-Kahn, long known for his “libertine” behavior with women, was charged with attempted rape and other crimes against a hotel maid.

Had this been “merely” a report of a consensual extramarital affair – such as the one Strauss-Kahn had with a subordinate colleague at the IMF – the French would have turned over in bed and gone back to sleep. Certainly the IMF board did so in 2008, when it took no stronger action against this brilliant economist than to chastise him.

Private affairs are private, the French maintain. Why fuss over Bill Clinton’s philandering? Why be disappointed in former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is now separated from his wife, Maria Shriver, over a child he fathered more than 10 years ago with a household employee?


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