Today there are eight workmen at my apartment. As we stood around the coffee machine this morning (they all drink their coffee black with one sugar), they congratulated me on the "defeat of Bush." In France, unlike the U.S., this is not a controversial statement. Remember when he won the second time, and one of the Paris newspaper headlines read: Bush elected; the French disappointed ?
"The Democrats won, does this mean that the U.S. will soon leave Iraq?"
"It wasn't wrong to go into Iraq," argued an African-Frenchman. "But they shouldn't have gone in alone."
"Extremists of all kinds are bad," said a North-African Frenchman with very blue eyes. "We criticize Islamic extremists, but the Christian extremists are bad too. Bush is a Christian extremist."
"And the méchant, le Ministre de Défense [Rumsfeld], they thanked him [fired him] right away!"
"Is it going to be Hillary for president in two years?" one of them asked me. "Do you think you will have a woman president?"
I explained for the énième time why I don't think she can win. She has the Democratic nomination probably sewn up, but too many voters in the middle hate her-- actually loathe her, and will never vote for her. The workmen had not heard of Barack Obama.
"It looks as if we will have a woman president by then too," one of them said. They didn't look unhappy with the idea.
"Did you watch the last debate Tuesday night?" I asked, curious. "I heard Ségolène [Royal] was pas terrible." [which, confusingly, means "bad."] But none of them had. I got the feeling they were actually much more interested in American than in French politics.
*Cartoon courtesy of Placide