Back in 1839, an Englishman by the name of Alexander Walker wrote a manual by the name of Woman, in which he quoted Hume: “Among the inferior creatures, nature herself, being the supreme legislator, prescribes all the laws which regulate their marriages, and varies those laws according to the different circumstances of the creature.”  So far, so good.  Nature is the supreme arbiter, and unnatural acts are a no-no.  Hume then goes on to say,

But nature having endowed man with reason, has not so exactly regulated every article of his marriage contract, but has left him to adjust them, by his own prudence, according to his particular circumstances and situation.

Whew!  Walker, however, disagrees with Hume about monogamy, calling marriage not merely a social but a natural institution.  In other words, once hitched you don’t fool around, and he brings in apes as an example.  They have one female at a time, he writes, which is a bit like pointing out that it’s dark during the night.  Apes do not go in for orgies à la Rome or à la Hollywood.  Or à la Dominique Strauss-Khan, for that matter.  Which brings me to the core of this month’s column: the French, their political leaders, and sex.  With the publication of a new biography of the French president’s live-in mistress, Valérie Trierweiler, it emerges that President Hollande, while living with the mother of his four children, Ségolène Royal, was sharing the Rotweiler (as she’s been dubbed by her enemies) with one Patrick Devedjian, of Armenian descent and a close friend of ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy.  I know, I know, you’re getting confused.  I’ll start again.  Hollande is living and having children with Ségolène, but on the side he’s knocking off the Rotweiler, who is cheating on him with an Armenian.  Does that make it any clearer?

Far from suggesting that these people are depraved, it illustrates that sex triangles actually get people elected to the highest office in the land of cheese and surrender (to the Germans, that is).  Ironically, just 20 miles away, in the land of bad teeth and freeloading (Britain), triangulation leads to the loss of office for politicians and rotten publicity in the tabloids for footballers, pop stars, and even royalty.  Sex, even to the British, is supposedly life enhancing, but it got Bill Clinton into trouble—although, being Clinton, he got away with it.  Infidelity is not something society approves of, but it depends on which society.  In South Africa, by far the most civilized country in that tortured continent, President Zuma has had many wives and fathered more than 30 children out of wedlock.  He’s not even a Muslim but a Zulu, the bravest of the brave tribes that make up the country.  When Zuma was running for president, no Western media dared to touch upon his extracurricular activities, because Zuma is black.  Even on these puritanical shores, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s voracious sexual appetite did not hinder him from becoming an icon, especially after his assassination in 1968.  Mind you, stories got out because J. Edgar Hoover and Bobby Kennedy made sure they did.  Never mind.  Blacks are babied by the media, except when they’re conservative, like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.  FDR, another icon, lived openly with his mistress and dropped dead in her arms, but the press turned a blind eye.  After him came a long line of uxorious presidents, until Clinton.  My problem with him was his women.  They were mostly white trash, inelegant and publicity seeking.  My father always said that there are only two ways to judge a man: by his women and by the kind of boat he sailed.  He would have loathed Clinton.  But back to the Frogs.

My favorite was Georges Pompidou, a gentleman, a charmer, and a secret swinger.  De Gaulle suffered from halitosis and never womanized, which is just as well.  Giscard was openly a swinger, unsafe in taxis, as they say—not that he ever used one—and he preferred upper-class women, revealing his insecurity over his phony “d’Estaing,” purchased by his social-climbing father.  Our very own JFK suffered from the same insecurity; 99 percent of his girlfriends were from exclusive country-club sets (except for Marilyn Monroe, who was, after all, Marilyn Monroe).  Mitterand, of course, was an adulterer and proud of it.

According to Shelley, love withers under constraint, its very essence being liberty.  The Frogs have their own poets, but Shelley must have come to mind when Hollande defended himself and his mistress against charges of depravity.  Mind you, Hollande is an awful little man, a Uriah Heap who worked his way up the greasy pole by never doing anything but brown-nosing.  All the people involved in his sordid little circle are like him: opportunists, careerists, sexual deviants, and not very attractive to look at.  JFK had great women; Clinton and Hollande have trash.  There lies the difference.