From the man who inserted “cheese eating surrender monkeys” into the world of talking-head punditry, we have more xenophobic yammering in the latest "Point,"
but that’s not the worst of it.
Ostensibly, Hyman’s commentary offers a critique of French president Jacques Chirac, suggesting that somehow Chirac is paying the price for his criticism of Bush’s invasion of Iraq. But, to paraphrase Hyman’s own commentary, the Angry Right have it all wrong. France is hardly alone in its continued low opinion of Bush and his administration’s foreign policy. Even in nations whose leaders had been more or less in Bush’s corner (e.g., Britain and Spain), an overwhelming majority of the people think (and continue to believe) that U.S. adventuring in Iraq is wrong.
As far as Chirac becoming less popular in his own country, Hyman’s right, but wrong on the reasons. He implies that somehow it’s Chirac’s stubbornness on Iraq that’s costing him support (a classic case of the logical fallacy post hoc ergo prompter hoc). In fact, Chirac is losing support to the political left wing in his country, often for actions that mimic Bush administration policy, such as anti-labor policies, unfair tax reform, and the Patriot Act-esque attempt to outlaw Muslim headwear in public schools.
For an interesting and relatively neutral commentary on the Chirac/Bush relationship and what’s really behind Chirac’s decisions, see this article by an Irish political science professor and authority on contemporary French politics. It’s hardly a pro-Chirac piece, but it actually gives a rational explanation of the dynamic of the French administration’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Iraq rather than wallowing in jingoism.
But what’s even more simple-minded than Hyman’s take on French politics is his attempt to turn his commentary into an indictment of John Kerry. With the level of wit we’ve come to expect from Monsieur Hyman, he suggests that perhaps Kerry would be a promising successor to Chirac as French president, given his supposed Francophilia (Hyman suggests darkly that it “seems” that Kerry’s family still owns property in France). He ends with the claim that Kerry “has the same French arrogance toward working Americans.”
You know, I didn’t realize the French had an “arrogant” attitude toward working Americans. If anything, I thought they likely felt sympathetic to working Americans who, unlike their French counterparts, enjoy on average a few days of yearly vacation time compared to a few weeks, and who often aren’t able to receive healthcare even when they are employed fulltime. Of course, Hyman offers no backing for his claims.
But even more important than his distortion of French attitudes toward working Americans is Hyman's distortion of Kerry’s views toward them (for which he also offers not an iota of evidence). Unlike Bush, Kerry wants to return to a progressive tax system rather than using the working and middle class to subsidize welfare for the wealthy. Kerry has a plan to get almost every working family health insurance; the Bush administration has presided over a huge increase in the number of uninsured Americans. It was Bush, not Kerry, who sent working-class men and women to fight and die in Iraq, and then gave the spoils of war to huge corporate conglomerates headed by political friends. It was Bush, not Kerry, who has put the sons and daughters of his cronies into their first post-college jobs heading up the “rebuilding” of Iraq, leading to chaos on the ground that is directly leading to the deaths of both Americans and Iraqis. It’s Bush, not Kerry, who has gutted environmental regulations to allow CEOs of companies to pocket huge profits while the air and water (owned by all Americans) is poisoned.
And let’s not forget Hyman himself. What could possibly define “arrogant” more than routinely lying to your audience, remaining silent about one’s own financial interest in the issues you comment on, and believing that your audience is filled with such unenlightened rubes that you can simply throw “French” and “Kerry” into the same sentence and have them dutifully vote for your chosen candidate like so many inbred Pavlovian mutts?
When it comes to both Bush and Hyman, “arrogant” is le mot juste.
And that’s Le Counterpoint.