Do We Need Two Frances?

Pretty soon, all of the “moderates” and liberals who, as Jennifer Rubin indicated yesterday, have fallen off the Obama bandwagon will have to form a support group.

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen is the latest; he is a liberal and an inveterate Francophile, but feels that one France is enough:

… I love France, but I don’t want there to be two of them, least of all if one is in the United States.

Don’t get me wrong, I think President Obama’s counter-revolution goes in the right direction. In fact, it’s less a question of right and wrong with his budget than of necessity. After the excesses of Reagan-inspired deregulation and the disaster that unfettered markets have delivered, the pendulum had to swing.

Still, the $3.6 trillion Obama budget made me a little queasy. There is a touch of France in its “étatisme” — the state as all-embracing solution rather than problem — and there’s more than a touch of France in the bash-the-rich righteousness with which the new president cast his plans as “a threat to the status quo in Washington.”

Of course, the budget proposal represents a maximalist position that Congress will claw back. Obama knows that. Still there was something breathtaking about the scope of the president’s targets and ambitions. For everyone from the oil and gas industry to drug companies, the message was clear: Off with their heads!

I’d thought of Obama as less Robespierre than Talleyrand. I still think he’s more bridge-building centrist than revolutionary. He needs to be. Money has never been more fungible than today.

Punish capital and it will punish you by saying, “Hasta la vista!” The former French President François Mitterrand learned that a little over a quarter-century ago when, after an initial wave of nationalizations, he reversed course.

Obama, too, will have to adjust and make trade-offs, while keeping his eye on core goals, like bringing health coverage to the country’s 45 million uninsured. As he does so, he should be careful to guard America’s spirit, without which recovery will stall.

I lived for about a decade, on and off, in France and later moved to the United States. Nobody in their right mind would give up the manifold sensual, aesthetic and gastronomic pleasures offered by French savoir-vivre for the unrelenting battlefield of American ambition were it not for one thing: possibility.

You know possibility when you breathe it. For an immigrant, it lies in the ease of American identity and the boundlessness of American horizons after the narrower confines of European nationhood and the stifling attentions of the European nanny state, which has often made it more attractive not to work than to work. High French unemployment was never much of a mystery.

Americans, at least in their imaginations, have always lived at the new frontier; French frontiers have not shifted much in centuries.

Churn is the American way. Companies are born, rise, fall and die. Others come along to replace them. The country’s remarkable capacity for innovation, for reinvention, is tied to its acceptance of failure. Or always has been. Without failure, the culture of risk fades. Without risk, creativity withers. Save the zombies and you sabotage the vital.

If America loses sight of these truths, it will cease to be itself…

And then there’s this gem from the divine Ann Coulter on the obnoxious Keith Olbermann:

…Olbermann relentlessly attacked low-level Bush administration employee Monica Goodling for not going to a name-dropping college, saying — approximately 1 million times — that she got her law degree “by sending 100 box tops to Religious Lunatic University.”

I would venture to say that the students at Goodling’s law school at Regent University are far more impressive than those at the Cornell agriculture school — the land-grant, non-Ivy League school Keith attended.

I wouldn’t mention it, except that Olbermann savages anyone who didn’t go to an impressive college. As it happens, he didn’t go to an impressive college, either.

If you’ve ever watched any three nights of his show, you know that Olbermann went to Cornell. But he always forgets to mention that he went to the school that offers classes in milking and bovine management.

Indeed, Keith is constantly lying about his nonexistent “Ivy League” education, boasting to Playboy magazine, for example: “My Ivy League education taught me how to cut corners, skim books and take an idea and write 15 pages on it, and also how to work all day at the Cornell radio station and never actually go to class.”

Except Keith didn’t go to the Ivy League Cornell; he went to the Old MacDonald Cornell.

The real Cornell, the School of Arts and Sciences (average SAT: 1,325; acceptance rate: 1 in 6 applicants), is the only Ivy League school at Cornell and the only one that grants a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Keith went to an affiliated state college at Cornell, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (average SAT: about that of pulling guards at the University of South Carolina; acceptance rate: 1 of every 1.01 applicants).

Olbermann’s incessant lying about having an “Ivy League education” when he went to the non-Ivy League ag school at Cornell would be like a graduate of the Yale locksmithing school boasting about being a “Yale man.”

Among the graduates of the Ivy League Cornell are Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Thomas Pynchon, Paul Wolfowitz, E.B. White, Sanford I. Weill, Floyd Abrams, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Ginsburg, Janet Reno, Henry Heimlich and Harold Bloom.

Graduates of the ag school include David LeNeveu of the Anaheim Ducks, Mitch Carefoot of the Phoenix RoadRunners, Darren Eliot, former professional hockey player, and Joe Nieuwendyk, multiple Stanley Cup winner.

One begins to understand why Harvard students threw a chicken on the ice during Cornell’s famous rout of Harvard at a 1973 hockey game.

If you actually want to pursue a career related to agriculture, there is no better school than the Cornell ag school. I have nothing but admiration for the farmers and aspiring veterinarians at the ag school. They didn’t go there just to have “Cornell” on their resumes.

In addition to the farmers, there are some smart kids who go to the ag school — as there are at all state universities. But most people who majored in “communications” at an ag school don’t act like Marshall Scholars or go around mocking graduates of Regent University Law School.

The sort of insecurity that would force you to always say “trebled” instead of “tripled” could only come from a communications major with massive status anxiety, like Keith. Without even looking it up, I am confident that Harvard, Yale and Princeton do not offer degrees in “communications.” I know there is no “communications” major at the Ivy League Cornell.

“Communications” is a major, along with “recreation science,” most commonly associated with linemen at USC. But at least the linemen can throw a football, which Keith cannot because his mother decided he was not physically robust enough to play outdoors as a child.

It may seem cruel to reveal the true college of someone who already wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat worried that he’s a fraud. But I believe that by pointing out that Olbermann actually is a fraud, I am liberating him.

You may not realize it now, Keith, but you will look back on this day and say, “That was the best thing that ever happened to me!”

Finally, you can stop pretending that you went to the hard-to-get-into Cornell.

Now you won’t have to quickly change the subject whenever people idly remark that they didn’t know it was possible to major in “communications” at an Ivy League school.

No longer will you have to aggressively bring up Cornell when it has nothing to do with the conversation.

Relax, Keith. Now you can let people like you for you.

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