Politics in France: Raising the Bar on Ridiculous Rhetoric

A Better Foothold on His Mouth than Reality...

January 30, 2012By David JaggardC'est Ironique!
Paris Update D-Day Landing
The D-Day landing. It seems like only yesterday. Or maybe last week sometime.

I don’t follow politics as closely as I should, either in France or in the United States. The main reason for this is that I am a civically irresponsible sludgebag. A secondary and much nicer-sounding reason is that I am a political nonbeliever – I don’t believe that any single human brain can comprehend all the questions involved in a huge, complex socioeconomic system, let alone come up with the answers.

So I see all politicians as being pretty much equal – equally opportunistic, equally hypocritical and equally clueless about how to solve society’s problems. But I do get a chortle out of it when they say something that’s actionably stupid.

The most famous examples from the United States in recent years both involve vice presidents: Dan Quayle on a visit to Latin America saying that he wished he had studied Latin harder in school and Al Gore saying that he “invented the Internet.” Both of these incidents also have something else in common: although widely believed to be factual, neither of them actually happened.

But the most chortleworthy recent example from France really did take place: at a rally in Nice on January 22, the New Center Party’s presidential candidate, former Defense Minister Hervé Morin, made the following statement:

“As someone who saw the Allied landing in Normandy, I can tell you that we have lived through much more difficult hardships than those we are experiencing today.”

Logical enough. Or would be, except for one eentsy-weentsy little detail: Morin was born in 1961.

Was he lying? Dreaming? Hallucinating?

My guess is that he was just myopic: he lost his place on the teleprompter and skipped a part right after the word “Normandy.” But what was he supposed to have said? There are so many possible explanations, I have decided to make this…

A C’est Ironique Top Ten:

Where or how did Hervé Morin mean to say that he saw the Normandy landing?


On YouTube.


Re-enacted in 1994.


In a diorama on a class trip to the Musée de l’Armée when I was 12.


As an allegory for how hard I’ll have to fight in order to actually get elected.


After nodding off during one of Sarkozy’s cabinet briefings.


After my eighth Ricard last night.


In a Mont Saint Michel snow globe.


From outer space after being abducted by aliens whose faster-than-light spaceship had this really powerful telescope so I could look back at Earth and see past events taking place.


In my previous incarnation as Winston Churchill.


In the scorch pattern on a toasted baguette.

Since I, too, am a baby boomer, I feel qualified to offer the following statement in response to Mr. Morin:

As someone who saw Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, I can tell you that if you remember the 1940s you weren’t there.

Note for readers who would like to do their own reality check on my translation of Morin’s statement:

The actual French quote was reported in the press with some variation in the wording. Here is one version: “Moi qui ai vu le débarquement des Alliés en Normandie, nous avons vécu des épreuves drôlement plus difficiles que celles que nous avons à vivre aujourd’hui.”

Note for readers who would like to know if I really saw Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock:

Oh yes. In exactly the same way that Hervé Morin saw D-Day.


© 2012 Paris Update


An album of David Jaggard’s comic compositions is now available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music, for purchase (whole or track by track) on iTunes and Amazon, and on every other music downloading service in the known universe, under the title “Totally Unrelated.”

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