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2018年4月23日 星期一

RCP Morning Note, 04/23/2018: Fact-Checking; Conservatives & Trump; Barbara Bush; French Connections


04/23/2018
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Carl Cannon's Morning Note

Fact-Checking; Conservatives & Trump; Barbara Bush; French Connections

By Carl M. Cannon on Apr 23, 2018 09:16 am

Good morning, it's Monday, April 23, 2018. Donald and Melania Trump are scheduled to welcome French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, to the United States this evening. Mrs. Macron recently turned 65, six years younger than President Trump, while her husband is 40. As for Melania, she'll turn 48 later this week, and if anyone ever illustrated the old saw about age just being a number, well, she's the one.

Maybe it's too glib as to say that love is blind or age is just a number. But I will quote a Frenchwoman this morning, Amandine Aurore Lucie Dupin, better known to you by the nom de plume George Sand. "There is only one happiness in life," she wrote to a friend in 1862, "to love and be loved."

In a moment, I'll point you to some of my favorite quotes about the French, all from the same American man of letters. First I'd first point you to RealClearPolitics' front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:

* * *

Seeding a Fact-Checking Conversation: Claims & Ratings. In responding to comments from the Washington Post's fact checker, Kalev Leetaru examines the practice of assigning a single rating to a collection of independent claims.

With Few Policy Prospects, Will Conservatives Divorce Trump? Bill Scher writes that ideological conservatives' shotgun marriage with the president is on the rocks, given how little he is likely to deliver this year and beyond.

Barbara Bush: A Life Well-Lived. In a column, I consider a brief interaction I once had with the former first lady, and the strength and values it reflected.

Tariffs Won't Stop China's Mercantilism. Here Are 10 Alternatives. In RealClearPolicy, Stephen Ezell asserts that Trump is right to take China to task but that tariffs are the wrong way to do so.

The Senate's Blind Spot on Terrorism in Yemen. In RealClearDefense, Alexandra N. Gutowski argues that U.S. lawmakers' focus on Saudi conduct of its war in Yemen misses the larger picture.

We Are Reaching the Biological Limits of Humanity. Ross Pomeroy explains in RealClearScience.

A James Bond Museum Rises in the Austrian Alps. Evan Bleier has the details in RealClearLife.

* * *

For American author, speaker, editor, and humorist Mark Twain, the French were always good for a punch line. This was the 19th century, long before France was in the middle of two horrendous world wars, so the ribbing had a good-natured and more innocent quality to it. Think "Aggie" jokes, with a French twist: Twain acknowledged the beauty of France's language, culture, and countryside -- while poking fun at the reputation of its people for being libertines.

"France has neither winter nor summer nor morals," he once said. "Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country."

When it came to la langue française, Twain's barbs tended toward the self-deprecating:

"How beautiful that language is!" he said. "How expressive it seems to be! How full of grace it is! And, oh, I am always deceived -- I always think I am going to understand it."
And in "The Innocents Abroad," one of Twain's characters says this: "In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language."

But it was the recurring theme of loose French morality that Twain knew he could count on to get chuckles from American crowds -- and French audiences, too.

"The objects of which Paris folks are fond," he said in a speech there in 1879, "[are] literature, art, medicine, and adultery."

In September of that year, he penned another version of this joke: "A Frenchman's home is where another man's wife is."

But, as they say in French Acadiana, which is to say the Cajun precincts of Louisiana, the rejoinder today might be, "The joke is on you."

Emmanuel Macron met his wife when he was 15 and she was a 39-year-old schoolteacher. They became a couple when he turned 18 and have been together ever since. In this country, she'd probably be investigated criminally. Add to the mix a thrice-married American president caught up in a scandal involving a pornographic "actress" and a Playboy centerfold. Although those utterly consensual alleged relationships occurred when Donald Trump was nearly 60 years old, U.S. law enforcement is still putting Trump through the paces.

Wouldn't this be a target-rich environment for Mark Twain? It's hard to know which he'd find most ludicrous. Would it be the sexual escapades of the current U.S. president and a few of his 20th century predecessors? Or Vice President Mike Pence's stratagems for forestalling such temptation and gossip? How about the blue-nose zealotry of the modern American version of Inspector Javert? I refer, of course, to special prosecutors Ken Starr and Bob Mueller.

In any event, welcome to America, Mr. and Mrs. Macron. I only wish Mark Twain were here to greet you.

Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)
ccannon@realclearpolitics.com

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