Friday, March 07, 2008

TGIF Countdown: In 319 days we can say goodbye to Bush and his loutish, bullying sense of humor

Just 319 days and George Bush will no longer be embarrassing himself and his country in meetings with foreign dignitaries.

Remember 2002, when David Gregory, at the Bush-Chirac joint press conference, had the temerity to ask the French president a question in French?
But, at the Elysee Palace on Sunday, Gregory found out that Mr Bush wasn't really his buddy after all.

"I wonder why it is you think there are such strong sentiments in Europe against you and against this administration?" he asked, before turning to the French leader and adding: "Et vous Monsieur le President Chirac, qu'en pensez-vous?"

The American president pursed his lips in annoyance: he does not speak French and sensed he was being mocked. "Very good," he said sardonically. "The guy memorises four words, and he plays like he's intercontinental."

Gregory, in so deep he couldn't turn back, ventured: "I can go on." But Mr Bush did a little mocking of his own: "I'm impressed - que bueno. Now I'm literate in two languages."
I was reminded of the incident this morning, when Susan Jacoby, author of "The Age of American Unreason," brought it up during her guest appearance on Wisconsin Public Radio, when she talked about Bush being a symptom, not a cause, of the phenomenon her book is about. Jacoby is also program director of a rationalist think tank, the Center for Inquiry-New York City. You'll be able to stream her appearance on the Kathleen Dunn show here after the link goes up.

4 comments:

Dr Bud "Jean-Pierre" Diablo said...

MadGuy, not to toot my own horn, but I completed five semesters of college French, earning grades, respectively, of A, A, A, A and A. Bon, n'est pas?

Now, after the passage of many years (beaucoups d'annees, I think that would be) I am no longer fluent, or even halting. However, armed with a French dictionary (dictionaire), I could get by. Just say the word and I'll start submitting posts to "Letter From Here" en francais, with no translations provided. Would this lend tone to your blog, suggesting that readers unable to scan basic French should betake themselves and their double-digit IQs to one of the Fox Network's Forums?

TV journalists are showboats, and Gregory is one of the worst. Bush rightly skewered him. The near-demise of live TV press conferences is largely due to the hammy, 60-Minutes-style pugnacity and insolence of television correspondents looking to impress viewers with their "courage." Comprenez-vous?

Madison Guy said...

I know what you mean, Dr. Bud. All those European journalists who come to America, decline the services of a translator and show off by asking our President questions in English -- they just make me sick.

Dr Bud "je ne said qua" Diablo said...

Touche, mon ami! Un coup de post, c'est vrai! Lettre d'Ici ("Letter from Here") is, as usual, right, and I am, as usual, wrong. If you are addressing multiple speakers of more than one native tongue, it's simple courtesy to use each language; if you don't know them all, what are you doing in that setting?

It is de riguer ("good form") when covering, eg, a G-7 summit, to pose a question in English and than rephrase it in French, German, Italian, Greek, Basque and Gaelic. To do less insinuates that one of the auditoires ("listeners") speaks an oddball foreign tongue.

Thus publicly mortified, honor dictates that I withdraw. Avoir, mon cher. Bon chance "good luck") to you and votre ("your") blog.

Madison Guy said...

Dr. Bud, mon ami, votre comments are always welcome -- I hope your withdrawal proves to be temporary, or just limited to this bilingual thread, not the blog as a whole. Meanwhile, thanks for not putting quotes around the word blog.