To My Son, While Far Away – A Report on Lunch, France and Politics

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My Son, my friend,

Decided to send you a note on lunch in rural France, on politics and how the French now perceive us since the election.  And, maybe a little more.


In Arzal, right now, I’ve taken a break from the lunch we are having with Bertrand, Nadine, the kids and Joe and Martine from up the street.  In September Joe and some of his friends shot and killed a few  wild boar.  Seems that wild boar are everywhere here, a bad overpopulation problem, and hunting them is becoming a passion with the French who go in for such things.  As you know, I don’t care one way or the other about hunting.  I won’t do it for it doesn’t interest me, but if others wish to, well c’est la guerre. 


Bertrand took the boar meat and combined it with carrots, red wine, onion, celery, mushrooms, prunes soaked in alcohol (!) and many herbs.  Cooked it for 4 hours.  Also made potatoes mashed.  Wonderful preparation.  The lunch started with two bottles of Champaign and many toasts to Obama!.  They love my rental car, a little Citron C1, complete with my last Obama/Biden bumper sticker stuck to the rear bumper.  The French are absolutely geeked about the election results.  Everyone’s just so freaking happy!!  It’s suddenly a good time to be an American abroad in the world.

Lunch started at 12:30 and was over by 4:45.  All during we drank 11 year old Red Bordeaux that Joe brought and decanted.  Very delicious.  We talked food, wine and politics.  Did we ever talk politics!

The French love Americans more, now.  They never truly hated us, but just couldn’t understand how we allowed our country to be hijacked for eight years.  I told them I believed it was by the same means any people let themselves be bamboozled.  By believing in subtle lies and to-good-to-be-true promises of the hucksters and flim-flam men who who seem to be everywhere these days.  The conservative ‘flim-flam man’ makes a promise to return to values representing the ‘good old days’.  It’s a bad promise and one impossible to keep.  Usually we all know this and just ignore the snake-oil salesman until he leaves town empty-handed.  But it’s the one time that we allow them into power that we see how damaging they can be.  For some reason their favorite hobbies are draining national treasuries and starting wars. 


Thank you BushChenCo.


Regardless, I’m just rehashing old arguments that we all know.  Still, my table mates understood, even if it took a while to translate the concept of ‘flim-flam, snakeoil and huckster’ into French.  (I thing Bertrand used some variation on Gypsy, ‘tzigane’ he told me, I think.)

Some things I didn’t know…I was told by our friend Martine that she knows there are people who are life long residents of Paris who are named Obama.  I was also told that some Americans named ‘Bush’ started to use a French pronunciation and spelling variation of shrub, Arbuste or just Buste, after the 04 election; that’s how ashamed and upset they were.  They just didn’t want to be associated with the situation anymore.  While I can’t verify these stories, I don’t doubt either of them.  It’s the little things in life that are sometimes the most powerful to us.

I am proud that the French, and it appears the world at large, now see us in a much better light, like we’ve come to our senses.  We need old world Europe as much as they need us.  It’s good to feel we’re back in the fraternity of the world of nations.

As a man of your age all you know is Bush and bad times.  The specter of doom hung over your head constantly, how we as Americans were so ‘bad’ and ‘evil’.  How it must have affected you, I don’t know.  It hung over all of us.  I’m sorry I never explored it with you.  I’m willing now if you wish to open that dialog.  If not, that’s ok.  Just know in your heart that things can be good, times can be better and with effort and determination we can help to make them so.


But now we know that it was never true; that we were never bad or evil.  It’s just that a little over 50% of our voting nation was misguided in ’04, scared by the ghosts of 9/11 into voting for Bush.  Believe me, we now know those days are over.  You don’t win by the numbers that Obama won by without Republicans coming to their senses and crossing over to vote Democrat.


By over a two to one margin in Electoral Votes, Obama is going to be the next president and he is all about change.  He is also all about service.  He came up as a community service organizer and has told us in his speeches and his books that in order for him to succeed as president we need to do our part to help him to succeed.  He wants to hear from us.  See, Zach, our part just wasn’t about voting for him…it started with making our minds up that Barack was the right choice.  But didn’t end with voting for him.  We need to continue to contribute.  How we all do that, right now I don’t know.  But we must keep our ears and eyes open wide.  We will feel the call.  We will know what to do.  Right now the cynics are filling the airwaves and the opinion columns of newspapers.  Change is in the air and most ponderous behemothic edifices like newspapers and TV News shows don’t like change.  They’ll say they do, and smile as they say it, but change scares the hell out of them.  For them to think that the populations of the world no longer look to them for the guidance on how to conduct ones daily affairs within the boundaries of their current accepted political judgment chills them to the marrow.  Dictating to us how we should listen to our leaders (by listening only through them) is their stock in trade.  It is what is called ‘Editorial Content’ and with the advent of YouTube and what I call The Blogs, the ability to control that content by large and ponderous News Corps has been seriously damaged.  They have been reduced in importance.  They have been diminished in stature.  And it’s about time. 


I now pay no attention to Chicken Little Pundits.  The sky is not falling, an asteroid is not hurtling towards the earth and Obama is not a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  He is the good man we all believe him to be.  He will do his part.  We all have our part to do.  Yours now is to finish your education and then get to work.  If that includes public service, then I couldn’t be prouder.  And I’m already pretty damn proud of you.

Love you.



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    • WSComn on November 10, 2008 at 1:23 pm
    • pfiore8 on November 10, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    smiling broadly nice!

    so you’re in Northern France somewhere, i think. the weather must be better than in Holland. whistling winds, on and off again heavy rain, and of course cloudy.

    i’m having the same experience here, with the Dutch. the election of Obama has given them hope.

    there’s a good diary at dKos… a 60 Minutes’ interview with his campaign team. real people. that’s what they sounded like. real people who have an abiding faith in Obama to do GOOD.

    i recommend watching it.

  1. What wonderful lunch (except for the boar meat)!  What a wonderful letter to your son.

    I am glad to know that the French are as happy as we, but I’m also not too surprised!

    Thanks, again!

    • RiaD on November 11, 2008 at 2:00 am

    this was such a lovely essay.

    thank you!


  2. How wonderful it must have been.

    You know I’ve just come back from CHATEAU LOUPIAC-GAUDIET after spending time in BEAUJOLAIS where we ran into Malkovich yet again. He’s delightful.

    We too ate Wild Boar, though I must say killing a boar with a 12 guage pump is a bit of a bore…especially while the boaring boar is just standing there eating wild acorns. Ha! Ha! I shot a wild acorn too!!!!.

    The best thing to do is shoot the boar though the head. Gunpowder tends to alter the gustatory effect.

    It wooonderful running into someone like you on line. Someone who has traveled. Someone sophisticated and bright. I love bright people. I tend to surround myself with them. I get boared so easily….ha! ha! i made an intended pun!

    Your clever, bright and you understand the French. Would you like to Parlez Franais avec moi?

    In any case I can’t agree with you more that Barak Obama is no boar.

    He’s tran….formed our world…the world of sophisticated travelers like you and I.

    Hasta la vista, baby!

  3. I can’t stop reading this diaryeah!!!

    WsConn said: Re the French

    “They never truly hated us, but just couldn’t understand how we allowed our country to be hijacked for eight years.  I told them I believed it was by the same means any people let themselves be bamboozled.  By believing in subtle lies and to-good-to-be-true promises of the hucksters and flim-flam men who who seem to be everywhere these days.

    Thank God! Thank God! Thank God! Obama we don’t have to be worried about being fooled by Obama and company….

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