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What we think about the French

Posted: August 9, 2012 6:35 p.m.
Updated: August 10, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Even the French don’t want to live in France anymore.

President Francois Hollande has announced plans to raise the top income tax rate from 41 percent to 75 percent. That’s got many upper-income French residents pondering a move to countries with lower tax rates.

Hollande’s a Socialist, if you haven’t guessed.

Meanwhile, my friend Waylon Fortenberry of Chesterfield County is taking glee in the discomfort of the French.

Waylon’s never been much of a Francophile, and he’s not changing his ways now.

Calling earlier this week from his home near Mt. Croghan, Waylon was laying a powerful cussing on what he calls “them danged frogs.” And I’ll admit his logic was sound: “Just what kind of wussies do you think go around wearing berets and eating quiche all the time?” he asked.

But in between all the icy words he was flinging around, Waylon was chuckling, too. One of his buddies had sent him a few choice quotes and stories about “them danged frogs,” and he was eager to share them.

“So Glenn”, he said. “You remember what Gen. George S. Patton said about the French, don’t you? He said, ‘I’d rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me.’ And another pretty fair fightin’ man, Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf, said, ‘Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion.’”

I decided to join in. “Well, Waylon, you recall what was said by one American politician -- I can’t recall which one -- after we liberated Paris and the citizens there were writing ‘Go Home’ on city walls within a week?”

“No, tell me,” Waylon said, fairly breathless in anticipation.

I replied, “The French never forgive a favor.”

By now Waylon was in full swing, rattling off all the sayings his friend had passed on to him. “Listen to these, Glenn:”

David Letterman: “The last time the French asked for ‘more proof’ it came marching into Paris under a German flag.”

Mark Twain: “France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country. France has usually been governed by prostitutes.”

Writer P.J. O’Rourke: “The French are a smallish, monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore. True, you can sit outside in Paris and drink little cups of coffee, but why this is more stylish than sitting inside and drinking large glasses of whiskey I don’t know.”

Conan O’Brien, during the buildup to the Iraq war: “You know why the French don’t want to bomb Saddam Hussein? Because he hates America, he loves mistresses and he wears a beret. He is French, people”

Jay Leno, also during the Iraq crisis: “I don’t know why people are surprised that France won’t help us get Saddam out of Iraq. After all, France wouldn’t help us get the Germans out of France.”

Waylon was losing some of his steam by this time, so I thought I’d try one last line on him.

“Hey, Waylon, you know how many Frenchmen it takes to change a light bulb?”

“No, Glenn, tell me.”

“One. He holds the bulb and waits for all of Europe to revolve around him.”

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