LA Times columnist Doyle McManus visited France’s Brittany on vacation and was surprised to learn how interested his French hosts were in American politics.
…My hosts were a French couple, Pascal and Martine Lebehot; he’s a high school teacher, she’s an auditor for the regional government (and the cousin of one of my wife’s oldest friends, which is how we met them).
They mostly had one question: “Will Hillary win?”
They’re taken, understandably, with the Clinton family saga: A charismatic president falls into a sex scandal, only to regain his popularity — “You mean that doesn’t happen only in France?” Pascal asked mockingly — and might now be succeeded by his wife.
The saga that includes corruption, self-dealing, rank greed, incompetence and disbarment?
They wanted to know if Americans were ready to elect a woman, something France has never done. “It’s a good idea,” Martine advised. “Just look at Angela Merkel and Margaret Thatcher.”
They wanted to know which family would come out on top, Clinton or Bush. “Dynasties — just like France before the revolution,” Pascal said.
“This Bush is smarter than his brother, right?” Martine asked. That’s his reputation, I said, but he’s just as conservative as George W. Bush. She made an unhappy little moue.
Note McManus’s bias over “conservative” as if such political leanings are an automatic disqualifier.
But there are also insurgent candidates among the Republicans, I added, among them Ted Cruz, whose father groomed him to be a leader from a young age. “Ah,” said Pascal. “Just like Joseph Kennedy and his sons” — an analogy no American pundit has noticed, as far as I know.
A few days earlier, another French friend had posed a more probing question with genuine puzzlement. “Your economy is doing a lot better than ours,” he said. “Why is everyone so mad at Obama?”
The short version, I said, is that we’re a grouchy nation right now — grouchy about an economy that’s not delivering higher incomes to ordinary people, grouchy about the inability of our political system to solve problems.
There’s truth in that, but many of us are grouchy because Obama is pushing toward a French system, the one that isn’t doing so well. Our economy is hobbled by over regulation, among other things.
We’re also grouchy because Democrats insist on giving more power to the federal government. And we see gross incompetence: ObamaCare, the Veterans Administration, the IRS, the mass cyberhacking of OPM.
The more government fails, the more it wants to control. That sure makes me grouchy.