Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Parlez for yourself, Senator

"Vous etes de Haiti? D'accord, je vais aider les Haitiens."

With these two simple sentences, Senator Kerry demonstrates he isn't quite ready for prime-time.

Where to start? "Are you Haitian?" As Frank Gaffney said on the Hugh Hewitt show, the proper translation of this sentence is "I want your vote, legal or not."

"I agree"...to what? With whom? The problem with Haiti is a tripartite civil war--the backers of the military junta that bounced Aristide the first time, the backers of the new President, and the backers of the exiled Aristide. Since this is Florida we could add a fourth faction, those who don't want anything to do with the other three and came to the US to escape their violence. With which faction is Senator Kerry in sympathy? They've got conflicting demands, which side is to lay down their machetes and accepts defeat?

"I will help the Haitians" Apart from the confusion as to the policy goals, this personal commitment in a foriegn language is deceptively more specific and personal than his English comment, "We must do more". John Kerry must be the only statesman who is more direct in French than in English.

I can't think of a candidate making such foriegn policy pledges in a foriegn language literally over the heads of the American voter.
President Kennedy is famous for saying "Ich bin eine Berliner", but he was President, he was in Berlin, and the phrase dramatized his commitments to the people of Berlin in English.

This week the head of the UN mission in Haiti said that he felt the peacekeeping process had been hampered by Kerry's off-the-cuff remarks during the primaries about sending troops to shore up Aristide.

If Senator Kerry's remarks in the national language of Haiti further raise expectations of the opposition party in Haiti, it would be because they believed the literal meaning of his personal promise, instead of accepting his pledges as worthless campaign bonhommerie. How sad, and how unpresidential.

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