13 Jan 2012

Quelle horreur! Mitt Romney parle francais!

One of Mitt Romney’s best applause lines is when he states that America needs to be the best of what it once was as opposed to the worst of what Europe has become.

Amongst conservatives, Europe has morphed into a byword for the state-controlled, government-infringing, liberty-crushing, lazy, sclerotic old world. And Obama, Mitt charges, wants America to be just like that.

Never mind the fact that both Uncle Sam and Europe are fighting over hospital beds in the same intensive care ward. Mitt may want us to think that he is a Europe hater but Newt, in his latest ad, has just reminded us that Mitt is in fact a closet European.

Horreur of horreurs, the candidate speaks a smattering of French, just like that other lanky Massachussets millionaire, John Kerry. Mitt learnt his French while working as a Mormon missionary in France. Hey, stuff happens.

Kerry, you may remember was the Democrat who failed to dethrone George W Bush in 2004 and is married to a Portuguese-born Heinz ketchup heiress. His wife looks and sounds European. He himself is part French. He speaks fluent francais. He adored France, and together with his somewhat aloof style, his love of windsurfing – a sport for rich people- and his patrician family, it was all used to make him seem out of touch and arrogant.

The ability to speak French became shorthand for all the above. It worked against John Kerry, and now Newt Gingrich is trying to make it work against rival Mitt Romney.

Not only was Mitt Romney a job-cutting greedy venture capitalist and the Republican governor of a contagiously liberal state – Massachussets – he also speaks the language of the devil: seductive, elitist and untrustworthy. French. Being a Mormon is the least of his problems.

If French is a bit too outré, then Mandarin is downright sinister. And Jon Huntsman, Obama’s ex-ambassador to Beijing, masters plenty of it. Wouldn’t you want your man in China to speak the lingo? Evidently not if he then wants to run for president. The ad ends with the obvious conclusion: Huntsman is the Manchurian candidate. All the candidates are up to it.

Negative ads, produced by so called Super PACs, or political action committees, that can raise unlimited amounts cash and produce on-air bile as long as the candidates that benefit from them have no direct contact with them.

In case you feel too sorry for the polyglot Jon Huntsman, just remember that the Super PAC batting or bating on his behalf with mud-slinging ads aimed at the other candidates is bank-rolled by his billionaire dad.

Not surprisingly, this election cycle is widely expected to cost more than $11bn, twice as much as last time. More than $1.5bn will be spent just on getting to the White House. Much of that money will be spent on negative ads.

The one foreign language that is not just beyond reproach, but that candidates love to be filmed stumbling through, is Spanish. That’s because there are roughly 50 million Americans of Hispanic origin. And everyone wants their vote.

One more thing. Breaking news: Newt Gingrich also speaks a bit of French. What is the world coming to?

Tweets by @mattfrei

8 reader comments

  1. christollesseb says:

    An expensive circus run by the 1% for the benefit of the 1% . . . has nothing whatever to do with Democracy for the 99%. The western world is sinking
    into a corrupt sunset!

  2. Saltaire Sam says:

    Ah,the west has so much to teach the world about democracy. It’s just extraordinary that they don’t take us seriously. Porquoi?

    1. Gary says:

      Je nais comprende pas?

  3. Elizabeth Trudell says:

    Would be great if channel 4 news could retain the centre ground on the American political scene but with such comments as the “rag tag bunch of republican candidates” from Snow and the gushing orgasmic way that Sarah Smith refers to Obama and his liberal agenda its apparent that this news program is past the point of no return. Good laugh though.May I suggest it changes its name to Channel 4 secular liberal news!!!!!.

  4. Ian Sankey says:

    He speaks a foreign language? Disgusting! Clearly he’s less intelligent then those republicans who can barely converse in their mother tongue!

  5. Philip Edwards says:


    Great stuff, as was tonight’s broadcast.

    Be careful, though. You might get labelled “a pinko” or, just as bad, “a liberal” by the neocon nutters. As you well know, McCarthyism is far from dead in the Land of the Free (sic) and Home of the Brave (while invading defenceless tiny countries).

    Yours is the only Brit TV news effort I have seen as an outright attack on the farcical and undemocratic nature of US elections.

    Keep it up. But be prepared to pay the inevitable price.

  6. Paul Ries says:

    i wish channel 4 would inform us more about all aspects of life in all parts of the US and less about the silly spectacle of a bunch of populist millionaires slagging off one another and aeurope of which they know too little. for politics should be about people, not about the puppet masters and their puppet.

    1. Gary says:

      They do the same with british politics. lots of multi-millionaires slagging each other off, with no concept of what it is like as a general member of the public.

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