early October '04:
Frenchie la Bush?!?
What was the big shocker George W. Bush uncorked
during the first Presidential debate, the one missed by a billion-and-one
bloggers, who are supposed to have all bases and angles covered?
No, it wasn't when the President said "Saddam Hussein" when he
was supposed to say "Osama bin Laden" - although that
didn't get much coverage either. But after all, he is bit
rusty at saying that name, and even his loquacious Secretary of Defense
has been known to confuse Saddam and Osama, sometimes twice
before the same audience.
No, that wasn't it.
The big surprise was when the President spoke French.
French. And at a time when the French are probably our
Least Popular former ally! When House majority leader Tom "the Hammer"
Delay begins the day's session with "good morning ... or, as John
Kerry would say, bon jour," and when Kerry himself, wouldn't
be Caught Dead displaying his French fluency, not for all the money in
the world - Bush ups and speaks French, and during his most-anticipated
television appearance ever.
The Big Moment (La Momente Grande?) came about two-thirds of
the way through the debate, when Bush was busy repeating his oft-repeated
point that Kerry's changed positions on the war:
Coeur?!? What could that mean? Ever thoughtful, Bush supplied
an immediate translation:
I've been listening very carefully to what he says, and he
changes positions on the war in Iraq. He changes positions on something
as fundamental as what you believe in your coeur, . . .
Now, plenty of Americans have heard of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, but
only a rare, fluent few, the bona-fide Francophiles, know that "coeur"
is French for heart.
. . . in your heart of hearts, is right in Iraq.
Granted, him being George W. Bush and all, the pronunciation left something
to be desired, but his inflection and cadence were so natural, so unforced,
so quintessentially Dubya, that most big-media operations
(who long ago gave up making fun of the President's verbal gaffes, lest
they be seen as ivory-tower elitists woefully out of touch with "real"
Americans) didn't even notice the sly shift to Gallic and erroneously
transcribed the word as "core."
First, they get every right-thinking American to despise France and
all things French, and then he goes and pulls the rug out from under us
by speaking their damn poofy language.
And if we're supposed to hate the French -- and rightly so, given the
way they tricked us into taking over their mess in Vietnam; their greatest
writer, Louis Ferdinand-Celine, was a Nazi collaborator; they're so lazy
that their vacations stretch on in excess of two weeks; they stole their
vaunted "French fries" from the Belgians; their pricey, pallid wines turn
to water before the might of our California "fruit bombs;" and they can't
even win their own silly bike race -- then what are we supposed to make
of this guy, now that were finally starting to find out what
really made of?