Dr Gingrich sneers at the crime of speaking French

I hate my country sometimes. Really hate it. Visceral stomach-heaving loathing.

One such time is when candidates for high office tell us that ignorance is good and knowledge is bad. It makes me murderous. Yes, ignorance is good, poverty is good, starvation is good, disease is good, pain is good – and that’s what we have to offer, the candidates imply. Vote for us and pride yourself on not knowing any pesky foreign languages.

Quelle horreur! Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney has been skewered in a new political attack ad – for speaking French.

The ad, released by rival Newt Gingrich, seeks to draw unflattering parallels between Mr Romney and another Massachusetts politician, John Kerry.

Entitled The French Connection, it features a clip of Mr Romney talking in French when he ran the Winter Olympics.

Newt Gingrich has a PhD in history – European history. He has to have had minimal competence in at least two European languages for that.

His 1971 dissertation, Belgian Education Policy in the Congo 1945-1960, contains a number of sources in French in its bibliography.

Miserable lying bastard.



  1. GordonWillis says

    Some commentators have highlighted a possible irony in that Mr Gingrich, a former House Speaker, has a doctorate in European history. His 1971 dissertation, Belgian Education Policy in the Congo 1945-1960, contains a number of sources in French in its bibliography.
    Is “irony” the word, I wonder. Maybe “cynicism” would be more accurate. The cynicism of the politician who denigrates any accomplishment of an opponent, and later lauds his own identical accomplishment knowing that what he said before will either have been forgotten by hoi polloi or theologically explicated by the believers. But then, I’m probably just cynical.

  2. says

    1971 was a pretty long time ago; Dr. Gingrich may have lost most of his French competency since then. Maybe he thinks learning French only counts if you can still use it.

  3. eric says

    I vaguely recall one of the republican candidates in the 2008 or 2010 (congressional) race, getting upset about a school for young kids that had the temerity to teach a foreign language.

    I don’t remember the details, only the non sequitur of him saying he didn’t think there was any need to learn about foreign languages in kindergarten.

  4. Blondin says

    1971 was a pretty long time ago; Dr. Gingrich may have lost most of his French competency since then.

    Or maybe he paid some Canadian kid to do his homework for him.

  5. li says

    Okay, but is he lying about his French or his thesis??
    I live in Hungary, and the rather boneless president of the country (a certain Mr Pál Schmitt, put there by the prime minister, Mr Viktor Orbán) is just being accused for plagiarism: large parts if his dissertation in the history of the Olympic Committee have been taken from a French dissertation of a Bulgarian researcher. We know that it was not translated by the president himself because the quoted parts are spelled correctly, while the original parts of the dissertation are not (Mr Schmitt is famous for having spelling difficulties while posing as knight of the Hungarian language).

  6. says

    Either the United States will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.
    W.E.B. Du Bois, Speech at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, August 1906

  7. alkaloid says

    That’s a great quote and I wish I had heard it before. Unfortunately, it often seems like ignorance is winning.

  8. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Gingrich is a firm believer in “do as I say, not as I do.” In other words, a hypocrite. But we knew that already.

  9. Mr.Kosta says

    Heh, here in Spain, the conservative candidate (and unfortunately, new prime minister) got A LOT of flak for admitting he wasn’t fluent in any foreign language.

    If the GOP wins this year, you’re gonna be in deep shit. And by proxy, the rest of us.

  10. truthspeaker says

    Those crazy French! Remember when they said the Iraq invasion was a big mistake because the inspectors weren’t finding any weapons of mass destruction? Ha ha ha! And then it turned out they were right.

  11. magistramarla says

    As a foreign language teacher in Texas, I often ran up against the “ignorance is OK” attitude. I often had a redneck freshman tell me “I don’t need to learn no fuckin’ foreign language. Them foreigners need to learn English”.
    This is the attitude that the GOTP is pushing. All I can say is SHAME!

  12. sailor1031 says

    “I don’t need to learn no fuckin’ foreign language. Them foreigners need to learn English”

    perhaps it is those texas rednecks who need to learn english.

    Et le Gingrich est un connard; il m’enmerde un maudit.

  13. platyhelminthe says

    Does this shtick really WORK? I mean, what sort of person would see that and go, “He speaks FRENCH? For shame! Not voting for THAT bastard!”

    What a despicably cynical attitude Gringrich has towards voters.

  14. lordshipmayhem says

    Meanwhile, here in Canada we’re told that the next head of the CRTC, the government body that regulates radio and TV broadcasters, has to be bilingual. And that means he/she has to speak both English and French. Other languages would probably be considered a bonus.

  15. BCat says

    Not to surprising, unfortunately…

    Grinch knew his French in 1971? Oddly, that’s the year that saw ‘Only Nixon can go to China’. After Nixon had destroyed the careers of other politicians and diplomats who tried to soften relations with the Red Dragon, he waltzed on over with no shame at all.

    These guys keep pulling from the same playbook again and again.

  16. says


    Gingrich has an ACCURATE view of voters, cynical or not. America is a country in which large numbers of people believe that education and intelligence are anti-American and should disqualify you from public office. I think it comes from a misguided notion that being “regular folks” is more democratic than being better than other people.

    … which is weird, since all the Republican politicians are super-rich and think they are better than everyone else. I guess it is OK so long as you act “folksy”?

  17. Beauzeaux says

    “Belgian Education Policy in the Congo 1945-1960”

    That should be interesting. I didn’t know the Belgians had any Education policy in the Congo besides killing the Congolese, of course.
    Maybe that IS education in the sense of massacres teaching those uppity natives a lesson.

    What next? Agricultural Policy in France 1940-1945 or perhaps
    Property Zoning in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992-1995?

    Does anyone else get the feeling that he missed the point completely?

  18. Stewart says

    Next thing you know, all the Republicans will be hurling insults like “intelligent” at each other and then the libel actions will really get going.


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