President Francois Hollande of France was in Washington D.C. at the White House and honored by President Barack Obama. The two toasted each other at an official state dinner Tuesday evening. This was a renewal, a lavish gathering of two countries whose friendship goes centuries back in time.
The couple of issues which needed melding, such as the recent US spying (eavesdropping) by our National Security Agency and the French resistance to an expensive war in Iraq, seemed to be behind them now. The state dinner held last night hosted diplomats, dignitaries and leaders from the media and business sectors. Hollywood stars also attended and the 300 guests dined on rib-eye beef and a White House salad from their very own garden. Even caviar was served. Entertainment was provided by Mary J. Blige.
Mr. Hollande attended solo, in lieu of his recent breakup, and was seated between the First Lady and the President.
The highly animated Stephen Colbert, a political satirist, and his wife were seated beside the First Lady. Both ladies wore shades of blue. A traditional meet and greet was had on the steps before the White House, with flags and a military presence adorning the entry way. Samantha Powers, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and her husband attended this formal and fun soiree.
President Obama quoted the French writer Toqueville and his impression of America, about the food and the White House, or his lack thereof. But Mr. Obama went on to say, with wine in hand, how we in America love the French. He parlayed our love of French food and wine and films. In addition, he spoke of freedom and the fact how we have supported this concept for 200 years or more. “Viva la France, God Bless America, and long live the alliance between our great nations.”
President Hollande toasted back in English, “We love Americans!” Mr. Hollande, told of US soldiers and their sacrifice in France during WWII. He said France grieved for Americans during September 11th, 2001. He praised diplomacy and military operations, where we work together, especially in Africa and the Middle East. He wants to work together for economic security and growth, in addition to climate change concerns in these areas.
Mr. Hollande went on to say America and France are close and confident, because values such as democracy, respect for the law and freedom are universal. Both countries share these ideals. “We love Americans, although we don’t always say so,” he said, “and you love the French, but you are sometimes too shy to say so.”
The issues are resolved when it comes to spying (eavesdropping), digitally. Mr. Hollande said in effect, trust is restored.
President Hollande invited President Obama to come to France this June. The President accepted, as it will be the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion during World War II. The pair visited Jefferson’s Monticello home on Monday.
Wednesday after French President Hollande attends the White House soiree, he travels to Silicon Valley meeting the chiefs of Facebook, Google and Twitter.
By Kim Troike