Two months after returning to France, and six months after the former International Monetary Fund chief was first accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in Manhattan, salacious new tattle has made life miserable for the man who not long ago thought he would be France’s president. Ensnared in a tentacular prostitution scandal—the so-called Carlton affair, which pundits believe has killed his last distant hope for a return to public life—Strauss-Kahn is floundering as he fights to clear his name. On Monday, he and his wife, the former TV journalist and art heiress Anne Sinclair, added a media lawyer to their legal team and issued a broad threat to sue over gossipmongers’ “most detestable voyeurism” after rumors swirled through the weekend suggesting the couple might divorce. But DSK’s real foe is bigger than idle curiosity. Instead, the battle is against no less than his compatriots’ hunger for a grand collective catharsis.
The headlines are pitiful. “DSK, an Isolated Man,” read the front page of the popular French daily Le Parisien on Monday over a photo of Strauss-Kahn alone in a parking lot, with tousled white hair, open shirt, lazy eye, and grizzled beard. “DSK ‘Sick’: ‘A Broken Man’ on the Verge of Divorce,” declared France-Soir, another daily. The articles linger on the plight of DSK, stuck in his luxury apartment on the posh Place des Vosges. They cite anonymous friends who say he plays a bit of chess, escapes into math equations, cannot bear to watch TV, bites his nails down to the bleeding quick. “He used to take two days to answer a text message, now he responds within the minute,” an anonymous relation told the Journal du Dimanche. Hardly anyone visits anymore, the reports declare, and DSK rarely goes out, fearing the “frequent” insults from strangers. “DSK suddenly seems no more than a lonely old man,” Le Figarochimed in this weekend, in a piece singled out for legal action by the couple’s lawyers on Tuesday, titled “Anne Sinclair’s Profound Distress,” which suggested divorce was possible for the couple, married 20 years this month, after the latest embarrassing developments in the Carlton affair.Read more.