Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Just when things were going swimmingly for the presumptive Democratic presidential ticket, a cloud appears on the horizon. The French Consulate in New York has tacked onto its front door an announcement reminding Americans once again of French haughtiness ... and of French geopolitical ambitions.

 In sum and in fine, Paris' ambitions for Europe are not unlike Napoleon's. If the French have their way, all Europe will be under the suzerainty of the French croissant, the flaky buttery croissant. Yet, modern France will conquer not with Napoleon's legions but in the modern way, with bureaucrats.

 The message discovered on the front door of the ornate French Consulate and reported very thoughtfully by the enlightened Washington Times huffs: "Visas for France are not a right. Persons applying for visas are requested to show due respect for Consular personnel. Failure to do so will result in the denial of the application and denied entry into any of the EU (European Union) countries."

 Apparently, the French government believes that it now, through its role in the European Union, can exert authority throughout Europe. Legal experts doubt the French interpretation of its role, but that is not the point. This little note reveals the grandiose role France sees for herself in the world. It also reveals French impertinence and hauteur. The controversy cannot help the campaign of Sen. Jean Francois Kerry, the Democrats' touchy Francophile presidential candidate, whose odd behavior is so luminously reflected in this note.

 What supposed rudeness drove the prima donnas in the consulate to issue their message? Did some eye-catching milk-fed maiden from the American Midwest laugh out loud when one of the consulate's young boulevardiers burst into tears while esteeming her beauty? Did some no-nonsense American business type become impatient when a fop from the "consular personnel" filled out his visa document with a government-issued quill? I have never applied for a French visa, finding as I do a two-week stay in France sufficient to admire the ruins; and frankly I cannot imagine many of my fellow Americans wanting to stay in France long enough to necessitate a visa.

 I know that Jean Francois boasts of the long summer vacations he has spent in the land of popinjays and poseurs with cousins and nannies, but this message only serves to remind us of how alien French neurosis is to laid-back America. Kerry in his humorlessness and pretense would be a better candidate for mayor of Paris than president of the United States.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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