Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Budget/Moral Deficit and Republican Brilliance

It is almost incomprehensible to me how two members of Congress, Bob Ney (R-Ohio) of Ohio and Walter Jones (R-N.C.), at a time when Congress is running deficits to fund the American war effort, can waste more taaxpayer money for such shallow measures like changing the name of French Fries and French Toast to Freedom Fries and toast. Yeah, sure, they are upset that the French, as a soveriegn state, have made up their own mind and have chosen a foreign policy that differs from the course America wants to take with regards to Iraq. But I didn't realize that these members of Congress were so immature and childish as to use a cheap publicity stunt (and waste taxpayermoney) to promote some silly and petty anti-French agenda.

"This action today is a small but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France," Ney told a throng of journalists assembled in the Longworth Building cafeteria to receive his important news as U.S. soldiers girded for possible war against Iraq. Jones -- between a dozen other interviews -- told The Post's Anne Schroeder: "This isn't a political or publicity stunt. We feel sincere as to what we've done. This isn't going to change the debate or course of the world. It's a gesture just to say to the French, 'Up yours!' "

Yeah, that is the kind of mature talk I like to hear from my elected officials. If I was from their districts, I would be fuming. And sure it wasn't a publicity stunt, I mean, why else would one hold a press conference, if nothing else but to get publicity. A Democrat from New York, Jose Serrano, described the orders as "petty grandstanding" and urged legislators to concentrate on the US' pressing domestic needs. "Should we ban French wine, Belgian waffles or Russian dressing? If Mexico votes no, should Mexican restaurants also be banned?" he asked.

Besides, French Fries aren't even French, they have their origins in Belgium. French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte had no official response to yesterday's event -- which caused the embassy switchboard to light up with calls from reporters seeking comment. But embassy press officer Jeannie Freud, saying she spoke for herself and not her government, told us: "Either these two have a great sense of humor or no sense of humor at all."

She added: "First of all, French fries are not French at all -- they are from Belgium. . . . It is too bad that someone would take a beautiful word like 'freedom' and put it on something as trivial as a potato. Freedom is too important for fries."

Eloquently spoken.


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