French Now, Karen?
By Robert Furs
John Kerry is playing this one right. He's thrown a demented
right-wing talking point frequently used against him right
back at a prominent Bush-Cheney 2004 figurehead, and this
time, its based on more than just the aura of Frenchiosity.
Presumably tired of months of horrendously ridiculous and
borderline racist attacks on his "French connections"
and "French appearance," Kerry has taken it upon
himself to point something out that nobody else would.
Karen Hughes, one of George W. Bush's chief propagandists,
was herself born in France.
"I understand that Karen Hughes was born in Paris," Kerry
stated, on the March 27, 2004, broadcast of MSNBC's Hardball.
The host, Chris Matthews, a Democrat with Republican leanings
(or is it the other way around?), found the comment funny
- as most likely did every non-Bushist watching.
That's right! One of Bush's fiercest attack dogs, sent out
with her new book to pounce on Kerry while consistently flattering
her friend George to extremes, is a cheese-eating surrender
Normally, being born in Paris wouldn't raise many eyebrows.
But the significance of Karen's birthplace is realized when
comprehending the enormity of the Republican campaign to connect
Kerry to the right wing's favorite enemy, France.
Spinsanity.com summarizes some of these attacks, which started
with a Bush advisor telling a newspaper that Kerry "looks
French." The Kerry-is-a-ruthless-Frenchie campaign blossomed
from that point on: he's been called everything from a "haughty,
French-looking Massachusetts Democrat" and "Jacques Kerry,"
to being accused of "favoring a French-style high-tax regime"
to flying in "a black, French-made twin-engine six-seater."
Editor-in-Chief of the outrageously fair-and-balanced Washington
Times wrote "You have to feel a spot of sympathy for someone
who looks as French as John Kerry" (yes, this appeared in
what some would call a major newspaper). The RNC made it known
that Kerry had a French cousin (oh my God, is this man really
fit for the Presidency?). Tom Delay, known for dodging the
draft by holding an esteemed insect-killing position, had
a bug of his own when starting off speeches with "Good afternoon,
or, as John Kerry might say, 'Bonjour.'"
It's quite clear that the Kerry/French meme was in development
at the same time as the now-infamous "flip-flopper" script.
Both are ridiculous, considering how often Bush has flip-flopped
himself, and how French Karen Hughes is now known to be.
I haven't read Karen's new book, as I'm not yet interested
in reading (and to an even lesser extent, buying) something
that would make Goebbels blush. Still, I have a good idea
of what is contained within the book's pages (and what is
within Karen's mind) from reading reviews, articles, and watching
this woman make the rounds on various television programs.
As she circles the media circuit, she hawks two products:
her book, of course, but most importantly, the most powerful
'product' of all-the fabricated image of George W. Bush.
As a synopsis in the Fort Worth Star Telegram so
succinctly described, Hughes' "descriptions of Bush - 'awesome,'
'phenomenal,' 'decisive leader,' to name a few - border on
Seeing how integral a component Karen Hughes is to the Bush-Cheney
2004 campaign, one would expect Hughes to at least, you know,
not have been born in France. But she was, as Senator John
Kerry was wise to point out.
Kerry is on the right track when he patiently observes the
mindless smears thrown his way, then cautiously and confidently
unloads a return volley that shows the silliness - and hypocrisy
- of the Republican attack machine.
Karen Hughes, that nice young lady from Paris, France, is
an important screw in that machine. Kerry has just loosened
it. Now, ever so cautiously and confidently, he must - with
a strong grip - keep the screwdriver rotating.
Robert Furs is a university student and columnist/editor