Au revoir, mes amis. Il a été bon de vous connaître.
Texas pals of former House majority leader Tom DeLay are bidding adieu to their retiring leader with a single question: "Parlez-vous Francais?"
DeLay doesn't speak a lot of French, but he relied on a few choice French phrases to taunt Democrats and the country of France for criticizing President Bush's policies in Iraq at the start of the war. His fellow Texas GOP House members chose an expensive contemporary French restaurant in Washington, Le Paradou, to toast the outgoing 22-year congressman Tuesday night in a private dinner.
"France and Iraq are losing credibility by the day and they are, I think, losing status in the world," DeLay said in February 2003 as the war loomed. "They are walking a fine line that is very dangerous."
During the 2004 presidential race, national Republicans made much of Sen. John Kerry's French relatives. DeLay would open speeches saying: "Good afternoon, or, as John Kerry might say, 'Bonjour.'"
After former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle criticized President Bush saying he had failed at diplomacy so miserably the country was forced to war, DeLay fired back in a news release: "Fermez la bouche, Monsieur Daschle," telling the South Dakota Democrat to shut up in French.
But when Congress renamed french fries "freedom fries" in retaliation for the French position on Iraq, DeLay didn't see the need for it.
"I don't think we have to retaliate against France. They've isolated themselves pretty well," he said then.
DeLay spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty was unhappy with any references to the restaurant as French. "This is an American restaurant (last I checked the owner came here from France some 30 years ago) that serves French cuisine," she said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
"I trust that you do know Mr. DeLay is French," she said.
UPDATE: Fixed the French (thanks to Amerloc in the comments). I swear, I tried a half-dozen auto-translaters, and "individu-détester" was the most frequent result. C'est la guerre.Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 06, 2006 to Scandalized! | TrackBack