1. Archive

Les nincompoops

Leave it to members of Congress to find ways to distort and trivialize even the deadly serious subject of war.

Congress still hasn't gotten around to conducting a serious debate on the question of going to war in Iraq. Most Republicans are too busy mindlessly parroting the White House line, and most Democrats are too busy ducking for cover. But plenty of members have found time to showboat. House Republican leaders decreed this week that french fries and french toast will henceforth be known as freedom fries and freedom toast in House cafeterias. Our armed forces in the Persian Gulf must be proud to know that our well-fed honorables are showing solidarity by stuffing freedom fries down their oversized fry holes. That'll show those insolent French.

Banning the term "french fries" is stupid but sort of funny. The cynical grandstanding of novice U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite,

R-Brooksville, is far more offensive. She offered legislation this week that would allow the American cemeteries in France and Belgium to be ripped up so that the bodies of our soldiers buried there can be returned to "patriotic soil." If Brown-Waite has nothing better to do in Washington than try to score cheap political points by desecrating the graves of America's D-day heroes, she should pack her bags, come home and leave her seat vacant. Her district and the country would be better off with an empty seat than an empty suit.

Over the course of American history, the French have been by our side as often as any country. In any case, our support for France during two World Wars _ and France's support for us during the American Revolution _ is irrelevant to the crisis in Iraq. On that issue, French officials, like their counterparts in dozens of other countries, have been butting heads with the Bush administration, but our nations have been friends for a long time and will continue to work together on most issues.

Some of our politicians apparently don't know it, but true freedom is marked by the right to utter unpopular opinions. In the absence of serious debate in Washington, though, the silliness is likely to escalate. Now that fries and toast have been dealt with, Congress probably will turn its attention to hens, horns, kisses and cuffs.

And we can only hope that Turkey's parliament reconsiders its decision to prevent U.S. troops from using its military bases for an attack on Iraq. Otherwise, the (pardon our French) damn fools in Washington will have us all eating freedom birds next Thanksgiving.