Mitt Romney Speaks French! - Quelle Horreur!

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Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427
Mitt Romney Speaks French! - Quelle Horreur!

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57342485-503544/attack-ad-shows-mitt-romney-speaking-french/

[LEFT]A close association with France has never been a plus for a politician, which explains why a liberal group is launching a new ad framing Mitt Romney as a Francophile.The twist is that Romney, campaigning in a must-win primary state with a significant French population, is also talking about his personal ties with France, where he was sent on a Mormon mission in the 1960s.

The ad from American LP, a new Super PAC, shows Romney speaking French in a promotional video for the 2002 Winter Olympics, which he ran. As he speaks, the subtitles mistranslate his words. While he is actually introducing people to the Games, the subtitles have him saying "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country" and "I was an independent during the time of Reagan/Bush."American LP founder TJ Walker said the ad would start on cable TV Tuesday night and would target voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.

France has been something of a scapegoat in American politics, usually at the instigation of Republicans. They were the ones who renamed French fries "Freedom Fries" after the French public was reluctant to support the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Republicans also targeted the Democrats' 2004 presidential nominee, John Kerry, over his French ancestry, ability to speak French, and even his looks. Rush Limbaugh often mocked Kerry for being "French-looking" and nicknamed him "Jean Cheri" or "Jean F. Cheri.

"Walker fully embraces using Romney's fluency in French against him, given that Republicans did the same thing against Kerry in 2004. "This is payback time for the Republicans and the conservatives who mocked Kerry and even produced ads mocking Kerry, showing Kerry speaking French," he said.He said the goal of the ad is to influence conservatives in this cycle to turn against Romney, whom he called the "only sane, rational candidate." Walker also said that "The mere fact that we can show him speaking French fluently, we believe, is going to irritate primary voters.

"Well, maybe not in New Hampshire, which borders Quebec and where one-quarter of the population is of French and French-Canadian descent. Talking about his French connection is unlikely to damage Romney in New Hampshire, and could help him.

On Monday, at Chez Vachon diner in Manchester, N.H., he found a Canadian man with a thick French accent sitting by himself in a back booth. Romney made his way over to the man -- Willie Bibeau, 67 -- and the two proceeded to speak affably in French. At one point in the middle of the French conversation, Romney switch to English, saying "Not as well as you do!" Then he moved back to French.

Romney speaks French fluently because he spent 30 months in France on his mission in the mid-1960s. He brought up the mission Sunday at a town hall in Hudson, N.H., when he was asked by a voter to describe "an event or experience that really changed your world view."

France is "not exactly a third world country," Romney said, but the missionaries had to live off of their own savings -- about $110 per month. That money would have to cover clothing, food, rent, and transportation, and any other costs of living."You're not living high on the hog at that kind of level," Romney said. He said they lived in apartments that didn't have bathrooms or refrigerators; they would use buckets and hoses to clean themselves in the kitchen and shop modestly before meals.

"I said to myself, wow -- I sure am lucky to have been born in the United States of America .... It was a wake-up experience for me." He told the crowd that as soon as he touched down in the United States, he proposed to his girlfriend, Ann in the back seat of the car as they drove away from the airport. They have now been married for 42 years.Reporters asked Romney on Monday if there was a reason that his time as a missionary was coming up more in recent days. He said, "I just respond to the questions as they come."[/LEFT]

What do you find more irritating? The idea that a liberal organization assumes that showing Mitt Romney knows how to speak French will be offputting to his fanbase, or the idea that the fact that Mitt Romney speaks French might actually be offputting to his fanbase? In other words, who are the bigger jerks? The jerks that assume a lot of Republicans are going to flip their lids because, god forbid, Romney speaks French! Or the jerks that actually will flip out because Romney speaks French? (I assume that there are demographic studies to back up the idea that this will actually damage him, or they wouldn't do it.)

Also, is it just me, or is it weird that a liberal organization is attacking Romney for basically upholding progressive liberal ideals? Sure, it may be offputting to the conservative crowd, but it's not like that is going to influence them to vote for Obama instead.

Or am I totally off base in feeling that this is nonsense? Do you think it's a good strategy?

ETA: Click link to see the actual ad.

Joined: 01/06/03
Posts: 1175

I admit I know very little about American politics or even who Mitt Romney is so I really have nothing to say about him but I'm very confused... it sounds to me like the "other side" is upset because he can speak another language???? Seriously??? Or is it because it's French (ie Spanish/Dutch/any other language would be OK, just not French)?? *scratches head* Here in Canada our politicians would be (and often are) condemned if they DON'T speak French! LOL Yeah, I know it's one of our official languages and, therefore, there's the expectation they do/should... but I honestly just can't fathom anybody being upset because someone is bilingual :confused:

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

The ad from American LP, a new Super PAC, shows Romney speaking French in a promotional video for the 2002 Winter Olympics, which he ran. As he speaks, the subtitles mistranslate his words. While he is actually introducing people to the Games, the subtitles have him saying "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country" and "I was an independent during the time of Reagan/Bush."American LP founder TJ Walker said the ad would start on cable TV Tuesday night and would target voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Um, W.T.F????

How can this actually be debatable? This is deplorable.

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

I find the whole thing irritating. Speak french is a politically bad thing??? I get that France and US are not always buddy, buddy, but the dude is not a Communist hanging out with Chavez. I learned German, am I a N#zi (not even N#zi's are prevelant in Germany at all)

Also, altering the words makes this political organization look like the idiots. It feels like child's games on playground and not adult, informed debate.

People can change their political minds. I always have found the argument that because someone hasn't ALWAYS held the same exact stance at all times they must be wishy, washy.

I think sometimes it irritate liberals (and conservatives too) that someone they loathe across the aisle may have at one time had a belief in accordance with their own. I purposefully use liberal and conservative here as they are further degress of the parties.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"Potter75" wrote:

Um, W.T.F????

How can this actually be debatable? This is deplorable.

Oh yeah, in my irritation about the French thing, I forgot to rant about the "mis-translation" thing. All I can picture is the people that wrote this ad sitting around thinking "Hahaha, people are too stupid to realize that he's not actually saying those things that we're putting up on the screen."

God these "attack ad" people are out of control.

b525's picture
Joined: 06/06/07
Posts: 298

"Potter75" wrote:

Um, W.T.F????

How can this actually be debatable? This is deplorable. [/FONT][/COLOR]

Yes, my sentiments exactly.

culturedmom's picture
Joined: 09/30/06
Posts: 1131

I read up on the group that created this commercial, AmericaLP. The point of the ad was to get make fun of the Republican Party who started the whole French is bad thing.

Walker continued, “This ad is payback for Republicans mocking John Kerry for his French-speaking abilities in ads like this one in 2004 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDq8bEjhs7Q. Let’s face it, since 2000, the Republican Party has become the “Stupid Party” and nothing says ‘hoity-toity elitist intellectual’ like the ability to speak French.”

“So our goal here is to remind GOP primary and caucus voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina that Mitt Romney is a left wing radical who has, in all likelihood, hung out with socialistic, atheistic cheese-eaters like Jean Paul Sartre.”

now whether it works or it is a good idea is debatable. But there point is to play on the French hating tactics of the Republican Party, not to agree with it.

As for the miss translation, if you watch the ad they are not translating what he is saying. That's clear. They are quotes from him over the years with the sources on the bottom. The ad is to remind Republicans of his liberal edge by showing quotes from his previous campaigns and platforms. Him speaking French in the video is playing on the French is bad theme that Republican's have used before.

I think the ad is stupid but I think to play it up as they are mistranslating him and that liberals think French is bad is twisting it.

b525's picture
Joined: 06/06/07
Posts: 298

I can't see the ad here at work, but I seem to recall that they didn't actually post where the quote came from. They just said, "[On abortion]" or "On gays]" or that sort of thing. If that's what they did, I can see that people might think that's what Romney is saying.

It's hard for me to imagine getting mad that he speaks French or spent time in France. I am conservative and see that as a benefit, as would most (all?) of my conservative friends. Perhaps the times are a-changin'.

culturedmom's picture
Joined: 09/30/06
Posts: 1131

"b525" wrote:

I can't see the ad here at work, but I seem to recall that they didn't actually post where the quote came from. They just said, "[On abortion]" or "On gays]" or that sort of thing. If that's what they did, I can see that people might think that's what Romney is saying.

It's hard for me to imagine getting mad that he speaks French or spent time in France. I am conservative and see that as a benefit, as would most (all?) of my conservative friends. Perhaps the times are a-changin'.

Well I am watching it now and it has the sources for every quote right under the quote. It even says "Source". And I don't need to speak French to know what he is talking about (the Olympics) is not what is being translated.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6697

I am not a fan of Romney, however, I think speaking multiple languages is a good thing. I also think having a good relationship with other countries is a good thing. Most people in my circles are conservative and I can tell you the fact that he speaks French is not why many do not like him.

b525's picture
Joined: 06/06/07
Posts: 298

"culturedmom" wrote:

Well I am watching it now and it has the sources for every quote right under the quote. It even says "Source". And I don't need to speak French to know what he is talking about (the Olympics) is not what is being translated.

Okay, thanks for double-checking. I would still say that it's possible others wouldn't notice the sources (just as I didn't) and that you may know that he's talking about the Olympics because you were told he was talking about the Olympics. Yes, there's a placard in the back, but if people are busy reading the subtitles, they might not notice the placard.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

Smacks of slander - essentially saying somebody said/thinks/believes something that you know full well they don't/didn't. And, pretty disrespectful francophones everywhere. Taking their language and corrupting it to an extent. I couldn't imagine the ire of Canadians if this prank was pulled here! Doesn't even bear thinking about.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

Also, since when is disliking the French just a Republican thing? Did I miss something?

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"Potter75" wrote:

Also, since when is disliking the French just a Republican thing? Did I miss something?

I'm asking since I haven't a clue, but in general is there some underlying (or overt) anti-French sentiment in the US? You find it just about everywhere in Canada - especially in the west. It's not everyone who feels that way in certain areas, but there are definitely haters in every demographic, it seems.

culturedmom's picture
Joined: 09/30/06
Posts: 1131

The quotes under the video are direct quotes from Romney so I don't think this fits as slander.

Melis, I don't think it is just a Republican thing. Xenophobia and discrimination come in all political colors. However, I believe that the intent of this ad was to play up the Republican's previous campaign tactics of "France hating". I'm not saying it is a good idea or even that it comes off the way they intend it to, but I believe that was their intent.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

A lot of people seem to be annoyed by the french. I think that they are just jealous that the women are so much more beautiful.

I used to loathe French Canadians, but that was just because they seemed to vacation en masse in Cape May NJ every summer, and they didn't tip and they (as a group, and to generalize) were pretty rude. As a waitress I used to try to avoid serving them Smile

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"Potter75" wrote:

A lot of people seem to be annoyed by the french. I think that they are just jealous that the women are so much more beautiful.

I used to loathe French Canadians, but that was just because they seemed to vacation en masse in Cape May NJ every summer, and they didn't tip and they (as a group, and to generalize) were pretty rude. As a waitress I used to try to avoid serving them Smile

I think that even French Canadians and the French tend to disassociate themselves from each other. I've heard lots of insults be hurled back and forth. Definitely a huge difference culturally. Their language has many differences as well. I can always tell if someone is French Canadian or French by the way they speak. Completely different lexicons, and Parisian French is often called 'real' french.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

We don't have an anti-french issue here in the Pacific NW as far as I know of. Only one person I know has issues with the French and it is because he believes the US had to clean up after their mess with Vietnam.. and their "rolling over" to the ****'s in WWII... I don't agree with him.
I think the more languages you can converse in the better, lots is lost in translation.. I think a president should know at least Spanish and French if possible, most countries speak English Spanish or French as a primary or secondary language. The only issue with a different language is forming an alliegence to the other culture above ones own culture. If you are president you should be representing your own country not longing to become a different one.. maybe some see knowing French as a type of alliegence to France or Canada above the US.. not sure why anyone would even have an issue with it.