Gingrich Ad Criticizes Romney For Being Able To Speak French

Matt Lewis passes along the latest Web ad from Newt Gingrich, which ends with the line “And just like John Kerry — he speaks French, too.”

Coming next from the Gingrich campaign, “Mitt Romney Is A Big Giant Poopy Head”

One wonders what Gingrich would say about Thomas Jefferson who was fluent in English, French, Italian, German, and Greek.

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FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. Kylopod says:

    I had to blink twice before deciding whether this was a real ad or an SNL skit.

  2. legion says:

    Well, if the voters he’s trying to win over have the emotional maturity and intellectual depth of bigoted 2nd-graders, he’s right on target. The sad part is, those probably _are_ the voters he’s trying to pull and, sadder still, this might just work.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    Je parle Français aussi, moi. Et puisque je suis libéral, on peut supposer. . .

  4. Eric says:

    Well of course Gingrich knows about Jefferson’s multicultural habits. He’s an historian after all.

  5. MstrB says:

    If this election doesn’t work out, Mitt could always coach the Montreal Canadiens.

  6. T Green says:

    Patton spoke French, too.

  7. A voice from another precinct says:

    I didn’t think the ad was that bad. “A Massachusettes moderate cannot beat Barack Obama is a strong message for the audience he has. The speaks French part is a cute dig, too–particularly if you remember that John Kerry (or an urban legend about him) said he was better qualified to encourage European cooperation in the Iraq war because he spoke French.

    Granted, most Americans can’t remember what they ate for dinner last night, but it’s a good ploy just in case.

  8. anjin-san says:

    Guess Newt the historian is not aware of the fondness for all things French of another founding father, Benjamin Franklin. Franklin also believed in science, so I think it’s pretty clear he was some kind of pinko…

  9. Kylopod says:

    @A voice from another precinct: I think the cardinal rule of cheap shots is that they have to be subtle; if you state the central premise outright, it tends to call attention to how inane it is. For example, when the GOP ran those Kerry wind-surfing ads (which are partly shown in this one), the message at the forefront was that Kerry was a flip-flopper, but the more underlying one was that he was an effete, unmasculine sissy–which dovetailed with the swift-boating that was going on simultaneously by outside groups. Because this was all implicit, (a) it gave the ad-makers plausible deniability (b) it was able to work on people’s primal, emotional side.

    But imagine that the ads had said something like, “And Kerry wind-surfs. What a pansy!” Then the effect would have been lost, and it would have just sounded silly to most people. It’s the same thing with this Gingrich ad. It might have been more effective if it actually played a clip of Romney speaking French, without comment. But by actually saying “And he speaks French too” it practically invites the viewer to ask, “Yeah, and…so? I remember my high-school French pretty well too, thank you very much.”

    That I think is one of the differences between a professional, polished politician like Romney (whose ads have been brutal and dishonest, but well-crafted) and an erratic bomb-thrower like Newt.

  10. Bleev K says:

    @michael reynolds: “moi aussi”, Michael, pas “aussi moi” 😉

  11. michael reynolds says:

    @Bleev K:
    Possibly a regionalism. I didn’t learn French in school, or in Paris, but in Rochefort in Charente Maritime. Yeah, that’s right: I just went Charente on you.

  12. Vast Variety says:

    One wonders what Gingrich would say about Thomas Jefferson who was fluent in English, French, Italian, German, and Greek.

    GREEK!!!! Say it aint so!!!

  13. Ernieyeball says:

    @Vast Variety: Apparently Latin was also part of his repertoire.
    I’m hopeful Newt and the rest of the field including the incumbent are aware of President Jefferson’s editing of Holy Scripture.

  14. Montanareddog says:

    One wonders what Gingrich would say about Thomas Jefferson who was fluent in English, French, Italian, German, and Greek.

    As opposed to the last two Governors of Texas who speak none of the above?

  15. A voice from another precinct says:

    @Kylopod: I agree with your point; I just disagree about what the main point of the message is. It’s not about the cheap shot–that’s extra. The message is to not settle for Romney when you have perfectly capable “not Romneys” to vote for. The main point is that he is a Mass moderate–the French is just–well, a cheap shot (but in this case a free one even if it lacks finesse–how much finesse do conservatives need to show anyway?).

  16. Kylopod says:

    @A voice from another precinct: If you took away the French thing, the ad would be okay. (Not great by any means–Huntsman did some much better ads on Mitt’s flip-floppery.) But it just goes to illustrate Newt’s amateurism. Yes, he’s a very amateur politician, even though he was in office for 20 years and has been involved in politics much longer than that. I’ve always felt Newt’s political skills are vastly overrated, and this is a good example of it.

  17. murray says:

    @Bleev K:
    “moi aussi”, Michael, pas “aussi moi” 😉

    Actually Michael put a coma between the “aussi” and the “moi”, which makes it colloquial but correct.

  18. grumpy realist says:

    Considering the number of people here who are analyzing the “aussi moi” vs. “moi aussi”, I ‘d guess we have a whole bunch of “effete pansy-waisted pinkos” commenting. (I vote for the moi aussi as regular and the inverse as being a regionalism. Ti gaspine, mon gars!)

    I’ve always found it amusing that Real Men are supposedly so scaredy-cat about fashion, speaking foreign languages, and high heels. Louis XIV, anyone?

  19. Fiona says:

    Hell hath no fury like a Gingrich scorned.

    I thought the ad was pretty effective as these things go. It certainly made the point that Mitt isn’t a real conservative and, by implication through the use of the unflattering Kerry and Dukakis photos, not a real man either. The French dig was a little extra reminder to reinforce the main message. If only they’d found a picture of Romney eating quiche.

    I’m getting a real quick out of watching the Republican circular firing squad, even if seeing the Newtster trying to present himself as a populist man of the people is downright nauseating.

  20. mantis says:

    Ignorance is a virtue in the Republican Party.

  21. roger says:

    John Adams knew English, French, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. He even translated books from those languages to English.

  22. @roger:

    And John Adams was from Massachusetts. Just like Ted Kennedy, Michael Dukakis, and John Kerry.

    John Adams. Just another Massachusetts Liberal.

    (This message brought to you by a pro-Gingirch SuperPAC)

    ( /sarcasm off)

  23. grumpy realist says:

    Massachusetts also has a statute saying you can substitute in place of U.S. history in high school 5 (or was it 7?) years of Greek or Latin. The idea being, of course, that if you didn’t read all the stuff that our Founding Fathers said you could go read the documents that inspired them.

    Which I wouldn’t have believed until I took a look at the Declaration of Independence again after getting my M.A. in European Cultural History and immediately mapped 90% of the DoI on to medieval jurists and Resistance Theory stuff. Go read Bartolus’s De Tyrannis and surprise, the same arguments get used 400 years later….

  24. ed says:

    @A voice from another precinct:
    The speaks French part is a cute dig, too–particularly if you remember that John Kerry (or an urban legend about him) said he was better qualified to encourage European cooperation in the Iraq war because he spoke French. are a mouth-breathing, jingoistic, Fox News demographic douche-bag.

  25. michael reynolds says:

    See, I have a sort of anti-snob French jujitsu thing going on. Français with some street cred. Up from the hood, if by “hood,” we mean Royan, Fouras and Rochefort.

  26. An Interested Party says:

    It’s fascinating to observe the anti-French bias of some, especially considering that this country achieved its independence with French assistance…