Well, the GOP primary campaigning has taken a turn for the worse - by any standards. There's a guy up in front in the polls, and there are guys waaaaaay in the back. So ... the guys in the back have decided to take some shots at the guy in the front in hopes of slowing down his momentum. OK. Fine. That's to be expected. But what has Newt Gingrich decided is a Mitt Romney short-coming that needs to be exposed to the party faithful? Was it his flip flopping opinions? Yes, but not only that. Was it his past business experience? Yep. Oddly enough. But that's not all. Was it his somewhat "moderate" past positions in politics? Sure, but that's not the extent of it. Gingrich decided to take a shot at Romney over the fact that he (drum roll, please) speaks French. OH ... MY ... GOD! Mitt Romney speaks a second language ... and French at that! In anti-Romney ads being broadcast down south, Gingrich creates the following equation: Romney speaks French. John Kerry speaks French. Therefore, Romney equals John Kerry in liberal policies. It's interesting that nobody suggests that Romney speaks French, and Julia Child speaks French. Therefore Romney is a good cook. Sont ces gens fous??!!?? It really isn't surprising that Gingrich has decided to take this path. Anti-intellectualism has become a platform plank in the GOP. (Even though Romney's French is more a matter of mission work with his church than it is of some academic endeavor.) Speaking a second language bodes ill in a country in which there are at least mild examples of official xenophobia demonstrated on an all too regular basis. But to suggest Romney's speaking French is a shortcoming or suspicious is simply ... how can I best put it ... L'acte d'un homme desespere. I have to ask - Parler francais est une mauvaise chose? Speaking French is a bad thing? I would suggest speaking French, or any other second language for that matter, is a sign of a willingness to communicate with others without making the horrifying assumption that English is THE ONLY language in the world. "If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me." Sigh. Ca s'appelle faire partie du monde. It's called being part of the world. And even if the party faithful feel there is no need to speak anything other than English, it's good to know our leaders may, just may be able to discuss affairs of the day with other world leaders in their own language. A cursory look on the Internet reveals that a whole bunch of past presidents spoke a wide range of languages including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Many of the earlier ones were fluent in what were considered the Classical Languages - Greek, Latin and Hebrew. One president actually had English as his second language. Martin Van Buren was raised in a Dutch family and Dutch was the home language. Jefferson was fluent ... FLUENT ... in six languages. Along with the ol' standards, Jefferson read books in Arabic, Gaelic and Welsh. Herbert Hoover beat out John Huntsman in speaking Mandarin Chinese. He used to speak to his wife in Mandarin so that staff wouldn't understand them. Just for kicks, John Adams translated books of the Old Testament from Hebrew into English (something I'd probably have a hard time doing, and I speak, read and write Hebrew). The family of James Monroe spoke French among themselves - even while he served as president. Teddy Roosevelt (a Republican, by the way), spoke French very well (but reportedly, and oddly, with a German accent!). Even George Bush speaks a reasonable Spanish, which is one foreign language more than Barack Obama, who claims he doesn't speak in anything other than English. (He does have a child's level of understanding in Indonesian having lived in that country when he was himself a child.) So, why is speaking a second language a bad thing? It isn't. It is simply Newt's desperate attempt to pander to his base - those people who think that having gone to a good university, or speaking a second language is ... questionable. Really? Don't we want a president with a good academic record and the ability to do something that throughout the world is considered simply a real part of life - such as speaking a second or even a third language? Romney speaks French. Newt says it's a sign of bad things ... suspicious things. Well, with regard to Newt ... J'ai peur qu'ill n'est pas aussi intellegents comme ils le pretendent! He just ain't as smart as some people claim.