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Who's French Now, Karen?
May 4, 2004
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 monkey.

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. 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 hero worship."

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 for

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