Why Obama loves France

“If you look at what the U.S. and France are doing together in different parts of the world today compared to what we might have been doing 10 years ago, it is quite a dramatic expansion of the alliance,” said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, who called the French “an ideal partner” for the president’s foreign policy…

Obama’s more of an opportunist than a francophile. Changes in European politics—the disengagement of Britain, and the increased economic prominence but insularity of Germany — have prompted a significantly more interventionist approach that started with Sarkozy, and continued under Hollande. And driven by their own domestic interests and a feeling that Obama shares a kind of traditional European multilateral worldview, French leaders have eagerly talked up the relationship — diplomatic and personal — with Washington…

The joint press conference Obama did with Sarkozy on his summer of 2008 European tour still sticks out in the minds of White House aides. The support they had from Hollande, despite the resistance of the French public, for sticking with the White House on Syria hasn’t been forgotten.

The French share that affection, rooted to the visit Hollande made to the Oval Office just days after being elected (the French embassy website still features a picture of grinning into the camera with a big grin as he grips Obama’s hand). Unlike every other French president in recent times, Hollande won’t address Congress during his trip. Instead, they’re taking great pride in the visit to Thomas Jefferson’s home that Obama will take Hollande on immediately after his plane lands from Paris on Monday, and on all the pomp of the official meetings and state dinner. Hollande’s already reciprocated with an invitation to Obama to join the 70th anniversary D-Day commemoration in Normandy in June (the White House won’t say if Obama’s planning to go).