I’ll Miss Him, and I Can’t Wait to Start

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The International Herald Tribune is being a little too kind to Chirac with this headline:

Battered Chirac defends France on all fronts

President Jacques Chirac, upping the stakes in Paris’s verbal jousting match with London, said Thursday that the French were better than the British in many domains: They have more children, they spend more on research and they live longer.

“If you take the major elements in society – health policy, the fight on poverty – we are clearly better off than the British.”

The correct verb for that isn’t “defending.” It’s “dissing.”

Props to the “two French interviewers” who promptly pointed out “that Britain’s economic growth was faster than France’s, and its jobless toll half that of France.”

He’s right about British food, though. He’s got them there.

Anyway, I like Jacques a lot better after this picture came across the wire during the G8 Summit:

You’d make faces like that, too, if you had to sit between two yammering ’80s pop stars suffering from indifferent dental care and delusions of being the new Albert Schweitzers.

But then I started imagining that Chirac does this face all the time — lightning quick — then goes back to serious and governmental expression, before the photographers can snap it. And it’s become a game with the press pool. They’ll call out, “Hey, Jacques, make the French Face.” And he smiles slyly and shakes his head as if to say, “not now, mes amis, not here,” but then all of a sudden, BLING! Then quick back to normal.

And this time they just happened to catch him.

Yeah, I know. I need a hobby.