Jewish World Review April 24, 2002 / 13 Iyar, 5762
Debra J. Saunders
Oooh la la, Le Pen
After all the French snootiness about
America's "cowboy" president, George W. Bush,
after all the French horreur because U.S. Attorney
General John Ashcroft is seeking the death penalty
against the French-born Zacarias Moussaoui (the
so-called 20th hijacker), after the Paris City Council
named convicted Philadelphia cop-killer Mumia
Abu Jamal an honorary citoyen of Paris,
America has her revenge.
C'est delicieux. After all the French moaning about
ugly Americans (and implied French superiority),
French voters' chose Jean-Marie Le Pen -- call him
Le Racist -- as runner-up in Sunday's presidential
primary. Le Pen will challenge incumbent Jacques
Chirac, who won only 20 percent of the vote in a
crowded field of candidates, in the May 5 general
How did this happen?
Conservative Pat Buchanan couldn't garner even
half of 1 percentage point in the 2000 U.S. election.
Le Pen won 17 percent of the vote -- despite his
checkered past. In 1987, Le Pen described Nazi
gas chambers as "a detail of history." He befriended
Iraq's Saddam Hussein. He was banned from
holding public office for a year after he was found
guilty and fined for punching a female Socialist
deputy???? in 1997.
Oddly, Le Pen was aided by the French left, as
many on the gauche voted for Green and Commie
candidates apparently in protest of Socialist Prime
Minister Lionel Jospin's centrist leanings. Political
analyst Dominique Moisi told the Washington Post
that "the protest vote went overboard." No lie. The
Trotskyite won 6.3 percent of the vote. While
French talking-heads had anticipated a
Chirac-Jospin run-off, Jospin garnered only 16
percent of the vote. Now he says he's retiring from
Jospin's campaign manager, Dominique
Strauss-Kahn, already announced that he will vote
for Chirac, telling reporters, "Le Pen's score, for the
honor of France, must be as low as possible." Polls
indicate Chirac will trounce Le Pen soundly.
In the meantime, Chirac has to understand that
while many Le Pen voters shamefully share his racist
leanings, Le Pen also may have been the desperate
choice of fine French citizens with legitimate beefs.
Le Pen credits his opposition to the European
Union -- many French workers and voters oppose
adding atop the unresponsive French bureaucracy
an even less responsive European bureaucracy.
Also, French foreign policy has been so supportive
of Palestinians that, according to reports, Le Pen
tried to appeal to frustrated Jewish voters.
What's more, many French citizens were rattled
when attendees of North African descent at a
French soccer game held after Sept. 11 heckled
"The Marseillaise," the French national anthem.
Some attendees chanted Osama bin Laden's name
in its place. Such demonstrations can put the public
in a law-and- order mood.
In fact, France has had a crack anti-terror unit for
years that has worked aggressively -- and
cooperatively with the United States -- to prosecute
terrorist cells. Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere -- the
Rudolph Giuliani of France - - opened an inquiry
into a plot against U.S. interests in France on Sept.
10 last year.
The gouvernement's rhetoric, however, has seemed
more critical of the United States than those who kill
children and civilians on purpose. Consider Justice
Minister Marylise Lebranchu's protest against U.S.
prosecution of Moussaoui -- which seemed more
mindful of French sovereignty than the senseless
killing of 3,000 people.
And so the government's snooty tone caught up
with Chirac and Jospin. It appears that French
politicians got too snooty -- even for the
Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.
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© 2000, Creators Syndicate