Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Les Cons (The Morons)

“Ils font quoi?” This from my sister Isabelle who lives in Paris and is a composer. “They’re doing what?” I have just told her about the US government shutdown, a concept so alien to the rest of the civilized world--and possibly the uncivilized one as well--that it defies description. “It has to do with the budget,” I tell her in French, to which she asks, “Ce sont des idiots?” and I have to answer yes.  They are indeed idiots. Who else but idiots, the ones the French call les cons--the morons--would get into a pissing match so severe that the welfare of millions of citizens goes by the wayside?  This sort of behavior is as completely mysterious to the French as was Bill Clinton’s censure by Congress for the Lewinski affair. Oh, wait. Wasn’t it the same bunch then and now, just a different form of idiocy?   


“Ce sont les fou qui ont pris l’asile,” she says, and once again I agree. The inmates are indeed running the asylum. It seems the notion of being a public servant has been forgotten by our elected cons who appear blind to the fact that never in American history has Congressional approval been so low.  In fact, according to the Gallup poll people who have been tracking approval since 1974, “just 10 percent of Americans said they approved of how Congress was handling its job last August -- the lowest ratings ever recorded.”  That was last August, when the government was at least making a stab at working.  But now?



I’ve been trying for years to get my sister to come and visit, but she’s pretty adamant in her belief that the US is not a safe place to be a tourist.  She reads about the crime here, the mass killings that have become routine, the criminals with automatic weapons, and she reasons, possibly correctly, that her apartment near the Moulin Rouge in Paris is a safer bet than my house in the Washington suburbs.


She may be right. Almost exactly 11 years ago on October 14, 2002, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, the Beltway Snipers, shot and killed a woman shopping at a Home Depot, and wounded another man before continuing their killing spree. That store is less than two miles from my home. The duo went on to murder a total of 10 people and wound another three. After the initial flurry that always follows such dreadful events, it was business as usual as far as gun control goes. My sister thinks that America’s fascination with guns is “comme des enfants qui jouent aux cowboys,” like children playing cowboy, except with real bullets. It’s difficult and fruitless to argue with that reasoning.


Being bi-national, I’ve always been in a position to defend the French while in America, and the Americans while in France.  When visiting France over the last decades, I’ve had to explain Vietnam (why would the Americans want to get their butts kicked there? Couldn’t they learn from the French whose asses were handed to them at Dien Ben Phu?); Nixon and Watergate (so he lied? What’s the big deal?); Ronald Reagan (you guys elected a really bad actor to be your president?); Monica Lewinski (see above); Iraq (what weapons of mass destruction?); the Busch/Gore presidential election (even the French wouldn’t cheat like that!); baseball (this is a sport?); Budweiser (this is a beer?); and a multitude of other foibles.


This latest one, the actual closing down of the American government? I’m not even going to try.  

1 comment:

  1. I am sure that it's no accident that your title includes the first section of the word "Congress".