COMMENTARY | Newt Gingrich is attacking Mitt Romney for speaking French in a new ad. However the Daily Caller is suggesting that this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black, claiming that Gingrich is fluent in French as well.
The accusation comes at the end of the ad, in which Romney is compared to two other Massachusetts pols, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, who tried to run for president and failed. It has Kerry publically speaking French and then Romney doing the same thing. Hence Romney equals Kerry in foreign language fluency.
The suggestion is made that Gingrich must be a French-speaker as well, due to the fact that his doctorial dissertation on education in the Belgium Congo cites numerous French language documents. Gingrich also interviewed a number of people in Belgium. French is one of the major languages in that country.
One supposes that Gingrich could have employed a translator, thus escaping the taint of being fluent in the French language. One wonders what the fuss is about, however.
To be sure Kerry seemed to speak French as a means to buttress his haughty, aristocratic mien, setting himself up as someone who suffered from Paris envy and not someone in touch with ordinary Americans. That included Cajun people from Louisiana who speak a kind of French. There is no evidence, however, that Romney has tried to put on airs just because he can parlez vous.
It is not a necessary requirement that a president of the United States be multi lingual; he would have plenty of people who can make him understood to President Sarkozy, for example. However it would be intriguing to have a president, like Jon Huntsman, who can speak Mandarin, the main language of China. Farsi and Arabic might also be useful.
Indeed, there has been more than one multi-lingual president of the United States. According to the Monticello website, President Jefferson could speak Latin, Greek, French, Italian, Spanish and, of course, English. His acumen in foreign languages seems not to have hurt his ability to be president.
Gingrich is -- once again -- over reaching in his zeal to cut up Romney.