TCS Daily

Could Americans Elect a French President?

By Jean-Christophe Mounicq - November 1, 2004 12:00 AM

John Forbes Kerry downplays his knowledge of the French language. Some even say he is hiding the origins of a mother who might have been French. I don't know how much of Kerry's blood is French. But I know that he always reminds me of French politicians. And this is definitely not a compliment.

Is it because there is something strange about Kerry's past during the Vietnam war? Like the past of President François Mitterrand, whose World War II record was not as glorious as his supporters claimed. Is it because Kerry is around the same size as Jacques Chirac or Dominique de Villepin and has this "superior" and rather snobbish air that is so typical of French high civil servant?

One could easily imagine that Kerry went through ENA, the prestigious French top civil servant high school, which has shaped, "misshaped" is the proper word, the minds of most major French politicians, from Valéry Giscard d'Estaing to Chirac, through Michel Rocard, Laurent Fabius, Lionel Jospin, or de Villepin.

Like these French politicians, Kerry is at ease with general and generous concepts that make him sound brilliant. Like French politicians, Kerry has problems concluding his own personal debates, choosing between different, often incompatible principles, and reaching a conclusion.

If you want to raise the standard of living of the population, is the market or the welfare state more efficient? Chirac seems to favor both at the same time. During the third debate, Kerry said "This is the first time the United States has ever had a tax cut when we're at war." But then, in the very same answer, he also said "I want to put money in your pocket... I have a proposal for a tax cut for all people earning less than the $200,000." Kerry sounded like Chirac trying to have it all ways.

One may think that it is intellectually appealing to find the middle of the road. But facts show you can't have it both ways. You have to be on one side or on the other. And facts show that people talking like that are, at the end, always favoring statism and socialism. During the periods when Chirac was either prime minister or r\president, taxes and public spending have been raised.

What is true on domestic matters is also true on foreign policy. Kerry, like French "experts", said that President Bush was wrong not to listen to General Eric Shinseki, who said several hundred thousand troops were necessary to do the job in Iraq. But Kerry does not favor sending more troops. He's like Chirac, who, some days, thinks it is very important that the situation be stabilized in Iraq, but has never offered to send a single French soldier.

Do I feel Kerry is French because, like Chirac and de Villepin, it's hard to know what he really thinks and which position he will take? Consistent in their inconsistency these politicians change their mind all the time.

Chirac is well known for changing position. He can praise the Labour party of Great Britain in the 1970s. He can try to imitate Ronald Reagan's programs in the 1980s.

In 1974, Chirac introduced a state authorization for lay offs in private companies. In 1986, he suppressed it. The same year, Chirac suppressed the tax on fortunes considered as "big" (around $500,000 at that time). In 1997 he raised it sharply.

But Chirac flip flop seems small compared to the Kerry's record. The senator would probably defeat most French politicians in a flip flop contest.

Still, I have admired Kerry's rhetorical skill. It sounds bright. But as with Chirac it is impossible to know what it really means: before going to war the US should "pass a global test". Would Kerry seek the authorization of Kofi Annan, the Arab leaders and Jacques Chirac to engage the American forces?

I wish I had found it funny to hear an "American-French" politician. I don't. Flip flop is not fair enough to be fun. I am living all the disasters that false leaders bring to my own country.

The collapse of France has well been described by young historian Nicolas Baverez. High taxes, high social and public spending, low growth, high unemployment, and the highest public deficit of any EU country. The French decline is even recognized by French top civil servants like former IMF President Michel Camdessus. Not to mention the fast Islamization of France with the largest Muslim community of all Western countries, between 6 and 10 million, more and more radicalizing.

When listening to Kerry I might be amused by his "logic" to fight on and win "the wrong war", by his will to bring on more allies in Iraq when insulting the first allies by calling them "a coalition of the bribed and coerced", or by his will to call a UN summit when no UN summit has ever solved any crisis.

I'm not amused knowing that Kerry was ranked the most liberal in the Senate by National Journal. John Kerry favors economic policies that if implemented would lead to bigger government and a lower standard of living.

What bothers me the most are the typically French "colossal errors of judgment" that Kerry makes when saying that "Iraq was not even close to the center of the war on terrorism before the President invaded it."

It's hard to imagine a more false judgment. Saddam Hussein was not only giving $25,000 to the families of "Islamikaze" who blow themselves among civilians in Israel, but had sheltered many terrorists groups like the Abu Nidal Group, the FPLP, the Al Aksa brigade, the Haouari group, and created Ansar al Islam and Kolama Islami Kurdistan.

Kerry should look at a map. Iraq is right at the center of the Middle-East. And the Middle-East is both the forge of terrorism and the financial centre of Islamism.

The US and world economy would be harmed by a socialist president whose spending proposals would add an estimated $226 billion annually to federal spending.

The US and the world would be more deeply harmed by a man who thinks the war on terror can be won just by chasing Bin Laden in Afghanistan, and organizing summits. World War IV is a complex and global war against Islamism, the ideology fuelling hate into the brains of Islamic terrorists.

Chirac has a major responsibility for the French decline. He never had the courage to make any real reform. But Chirac has never been elected on a crazy program with additional billions in public spending like the one of Kerry. Chirac was in the war of Algeria. He never tried to escape it after 4 months. He never betrayed the French army by saying that it was using torture against FLN terrorists, when it was.

I hope the Americans are not going to elect a president who sounds worse than any French socialists and than any French appeasers.


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