Or an easy way to silence critics.

Guillaume Larrivé, an MP with the former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party, tabled a parliamentary question in March asking how much Trierweiler’s staff at the Elysée palace cost.

Not so long ago there were howls on the right in this country that Michelle Obama’s staff was larger than Laura Bush’s had been.  The question, according to the WH, wasn’t easy to answer because apparently counting a First Lady’s staff is somewhat fuzzy — but the best guess is that Michelle’s staff was no larger and possibly smaller than Laura’s had been.  Doubtful that the Obama haters accepted that, but at least it shut them up.

Counting is apparently less fuzzy in France:

The answer came this week in France’s official journal, which stated that the five people working for President François Hollande’s unmarried partner cost a net total of €19,742 (£16,600) a month.

Larrivé did not ask for information about Bruni, …  But officials from Hollande’s Socialist government said that to put Trierweiler’s costs into perspective they should be compared with those of her predecessor.

They revealed that Bruni, now 45, had eight people working for her at the Elysée at a monthly cost of €36,448. Bruni also outsourced the administration of her website, which added a further €25,714 for two people’s wages to the bill, bringing the total to €60,000 a month.

Did that extra €40,000/month go into public relations?  If so, it worked.

This didn’t:

Within days of coming to power last year, Hollande cut his own and his ministers’ pay by 30%.

But will this?

This week it was announced that more than 1,000 bottles of wine from the French presidential cellar are to be auctioned off, with the proceeds to be reinvested in more modest vintages and the excess returned to state coffers.

Can’t the WH be a bit more frugal than this?

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