The Last Romantics
by Gilles d'Aymery

June 02, 1997

(Please note that the French are unable to pronounce any English word that starts with "th", such as that, this, or there; in French it becomes zat, zis or zere)

Don't you love ze French. Completely unpredictable, from zeir President, Jacques Chirac, to ze people itself. Here is a man, ze President, zat has an absolute majority in Congress (zey call it Parliament over zere), a veto-proof majority, who calls for new elections -- zey have zis strange Constitution zat gives ze power to ze President to dissolve ze Congress; a useful trick when one has a majority against one's policies. But in France, ze country of creative thinking and deconstructionism, ze President felt he would be better off with a smaller majority and so he dissolved ze Parliament with ze stroke of his presidential pen. But he did not account for ze people. He did not heed one of ze best known character trait of ze French people. Zey always do ze exact opposite of what you want zem to do. And zis time was no exception. Zey just elected a Socialist Congress!

Ze entire world is moving to free market and democracy, we are told by ze New York Times and ze six o'clock evening news, and ze French go ze Cuban way. We are ridding ourselves of welfare (it's called workfare nowadays) and ze French want more of it; like, for instance, six-week vacation, free health-care, 12 month unemployed full pay (80 pct zereafter) and ze like. Can you believe zis? Zey're out of zeir mind. Obviously, zey have yet to discover Darwin!

A few years back France had a Socialist president, Francois Mitterrand. Ze electorate, by esprit de contradiction, decided to elect a conservative majority to ze Congress and ze new Prime Minister was no one else but ze present President, Jacques Chirac. At zat time, Jacquot -- as he is known to his intimate (women included) declared quite seriously zat the President should resign since ze people had disavowed his policies. Instead of resigning he got reelected to a second term two years later. Go figure ze French! Do you think Chirac is going to resign?

All in all, ze French want you to understand zat in spite of Coca-Cola, MacDonald's and Paula Jones ze wheel keeps turning. Zere is hope in zeir message, though not necessarily in Arkansas. In a world where history has ended, a world zat has entered a post ideology era, what else would you expect from ze French?

Published June 02, 1997
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