Don't you girls just lurve the surge of fab women in politics? Fat Hilary ankles and wide Cherie hips have been replaced by the Park Avenue princess blondeness of Cindy McCain, the corporate chic-ness of Michelle Obama, the total chicness of Carla Bruni Sarkozy (but I HATED the beret and Tod's flats--being French, she should have worn Roger Vivier they are from the same company anyway...), the established style of fashion executive Mrs David Cameron, creative director of Smythson's....
AND NOW...France's justice minister Rachida Dati---I saw some of her pictures and she looks GREAT!!! Get a load of parts of the copy which I 'bolded" (the important parts! hahaha!!)
Sorry no picture--but you can google images her...
FROM THE FINANCIAL TIMES 7/8 June 2008:
Woman in the News: Rachida Dati
By Ben Hall
It is tough being a symbol, especially in a country where symbols are forensically analysed. Rachida Dati, France’s justice minister, found that out this week.
President Nicolas Sarkozy’s appointment of Ms Dati last year had been seen as a brilliant symbolic move. After appealing to far-right voters by promising to crack down on immigration, he made Ms Dati the first figure of Muslim origin to hold senior ministerial office in a country that has more than 5m Muslims but not a single Muslim MP. She is young, female and of North African origin, with striking good looks, and her promotion sent a message of unity. She is also a kindred spirit – like him, an offspring of immigrants with an authoritarian streak, irreverent style and a taste for the high life (including an endless line in chic Dior dresses). -we love her already!!!
However, the symbolism of her Muslim heritage clashed with political substance this week as Ms Dati found herself at the centre of a political storm over a bizarre legal case involving a marriage between a Muslim couple that was annulled because the woman had lied about being a virgin. The ruling triggered a furore because religion is supposed to have no place in the French state and because it raised sensitive questions about whether a secular tradition was bending to pressure from France’s Muslim community.
Rather than join the chorus of condemnation, Ms Dati’s first reaction was to defend the decision, only later to order an appeal under pressure from Mr Sarkozy. Her abrupt U-turn turned a row over secularism into one about her competence. Yet the case also highlighted an unusually personal back-story: Ms Dati herself had a semi- arranged marriage in 1992 annulled, although she has revealed little about the circumstances.
Charged with incompetence by opposition Socialists, Ms Dati returned fire, accusing them of keeping Muslims in poor estates while pretending to help. “I escaped from your policy failures,” she told them.
Ms Dati grew up in a housing estate in eastern France. She was born in 1965 in Burgundy into a poor family, the second of 12 children of a strict Moroccan father, a bricklayer, and an illiterate Algerian mother. Educated at a Catholic school and a state lycée, she used a series of part-time jobs – selling cosmetics door-to-door, working in a supermarket and as a hospital nurse – to fund her way through school and university, culminating in the prestigious HEC business school. After meeting Albin Chalandon, a former justice minister and executive who became her first mentor, at a party in 1987 she worked for Elf Aquitaine, then his family’s oil business. She switched to law, becoming a junior magistrate and assistant prosecutor.
In 2002, Mr Sarkozy, then interior minister, brought her into his team of advisers. Ms Dati was one of his closest confidantes and spokeswoman for his presidential campaign, becoming close to Cécilia, then Mr Sarkozy’s wife, who encouraged her promotion. Ms Dati stood by her during the opprobrium of the divorce.
Even so, rumours about her intimacy with the president have been fuelled this week with the publication of a book about Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the president’s new wife. It reports that when Mrs Sarkozy showed Ms Dati around a private apartment in the Elysée palace she paused in front of a double bed and said: “You would have really liked to have been in it, wouldn’t you?”- when I first laid eyes on Ms Dati, I thought the VERY THING!!!!
Ms Dati has started to forge a career as an elected politician, not just an appointee. In March she was elected mayor of the chic and very white 7th arrondissement in Paris, with help from Mr Sarkozy. However, although he rushed to her defence this week, saying she had become a victim of a “lynching”, there had been signs of him putting distance between them. He excluded her from his recently created inner cabinet of seven trusted ministers.
Indeed, after only a year in office, Ms Dati has made a lot of enemies. Some of the criticism is chauvinism towards an ambitious female, yet it also represents the hauteur towards an aspiring child of immigrants obsessed with her own image (a criticism Mr Sarkozy has himself faced). Ms Dati is said to go on prison visits wearing her finest designer dresses, many reportedly commandeered from Paris fashion houses.(well, she IS FRENCH---and that's what Congresswoman Emily Lopez used to wear but only Escada when she went to Camiguin, the poorest province of the Phils) She has annoyed parliamentarians by walking into the chamber of deputies with a mobile phone clamped to her ear and carrying a copy of Paris Match, a celebrity magazine in which she has appeared posing in black stiletto boots and confessing a taste for Chanel, Dior and cheap T-shirts from Monoprix. At her first Paris city council meeting she was caught on camera filing her nails. André Vallini, a socialist deputy, says she has “unbearable lightness”. -doesn't she remind you of the fabulous Alexis Carrington-Colby??
More substantively, she has acquired a reputation within her ministry for impossible rudeness and arrogance. Eleven members of her cabinet, or team of advisers, have left since she arrived in the ministry, prompting The Nouvel Observateur to mock her as the “Iron Lady”. She has alienated conservatives in the legal profession, partly from her efforts to overhaul France’s network of courts, unchanged for 50 years. Some colleagues view her as a weak parliamentary speaker – when it came to defending a wide-ranging constitutional reform package last month, its author, Edouard Balladur, the former prime minister, pleaded with the Elysée: “Don’t put her up, she’s useless.”
Ms Dati has also faced criticism from France’s North African community, accusing her of erasing her origins and shunning Muslims, preferring to see herself as foremost “a child of France”. Azouz Begag, a former junior minister for equalities in the centre-right government and son of Algerian immigrants, paid tribute to her success: “She is what a lot of the kids on the estates want. The boys want to be Zinédine Zidane and all the girls want to be Rachida Dati. But it is totally misleading.”
However, he argues, she has left her Muslim origins too far behind. “Her message is: I’m like you. I am one of you. I like power. I like luxury. It works because the majority of French people simply want to be wealthy and she embodies that aspiration. As long as the political classes use tokens, who are appointed rather than elected, who are conformist rather than independent-minded personalities, there will not be elected politicians from ethnic minorities.”
Ms Dati will have to prove she is more than a symbol if she is really to represent a new France.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008