Following the recent war on Iraq and French obstructionism to it, Republicans which are deviating from the party line on issues as diverse as tax reform are being branded Francophiles or "Franco-Republicans." Senators George Voinovich of Ohio and Olympia Snowe of Maine have been blasted by Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth, a conservative organization that "helps elect candidates that support limited government and low taxes", labelled in a series of TV ads as "Franco-Republicans" and compared to French President Jacques Chirac.
Bush's tax cuts are seen by some as a powerful growth-stimulating countermeasure to the damage caused to the American economy by terrorist attacks and war in Iraq (and possibly elsewhere.) A handful of Republican Senators want to reduce it from $550 billion to $350 billion (it was originally $727 billion.) It's important for Bush to succeed lest he enjoy the same fate as his father: winning the war and losing the economy. But is lamblasting Senators as "Franco-Republicans" the best way for the Club for Growth to go about it?
"A nameless White House aide was quoted recently in the New York Times offering this thoughtful, considered critique of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry: "He looks French."" (Source: Wash Post)
Hmm. Of course, what people are really attacking when they call someone "French" is the perceived traits of the individual. So what French trait are Senators Voinovich and Snowe showing? According to the Club for Growth, they're enemies of freedom. The ad goes:
"President Bush courageously led the forces of freedom. But some so-called allies like France stood in the way. At home, President Bush has proposed bold job-creating tax cuts to boost our economy. But some so-called Republicans like" - the Maine ads mention Snowe; the Ohio ads, Voinovich - "stand in the way."
Or, in brief: "Just like French foreign policy shows them to be enemies of freedom, so does the Senators' opposition to the tax cut package." So what is a Franco-Republican?
Well, there are literally thousands of Franco-Republicans in Maine, that is people with a French-Canadian ancestry who vote Republican. I presume it's not these people the Club for Growth is attacking - it's Republicans that aren't toeing the party line and the advancement towards a freer market. Very few people in recent polls have rated Bush strongly on his handling of the economy (although there are stratospheric approvals of his overall leadership skills), so maybe this is an issue the Party needs to deal with. Incidently, Alan Greenspan expressed opposition to further tax cuts in mid-2002, and Bush is keen to see him fulfill another term as head of the Federal Reserve.
I don't want to discuss the merits of the tax cut plan, but whether you agree with it or not it's likely we'll be hearing the term "Franco-Republican" a lot more in the future. France has certainly done a lot to harm relations with the United States, and they'll be a bogeyman on the Hill for a while to come. But let's discuss an issue on its merits, and not on whether we think a Senator "looks French", eh, Mr. Moore?