Barack Obama is one lucky dude. Every time he makes a gaffe, someone makes a bigger one to save the him from himself. But the candidate’s latest opining on our Spanish language skills was a lot more important to our futures than what Jesse Jackson (not running for president for once) did or didn’t say. (Does Obama speak Spanish? Yo no se, pero creo que no. And judging from the way he pronounced “Merci, beaucoup!” he’s no Racine scholar either.)
Nevertheless, the candidate has expounded on the question of Americans learning languages – or should I say Spanish, because that seems the only applicable language here. Obama, whoring for the Hispanic vote like the good “new” politician he is, put forth the view that all us gringos should learn español, while paying almost no heed to the vastly more important necessity that immigrants learn English. He waved that off with an of course they would do that. Why even consider that a problem?
If Obama really did speak Spanish, he would know what nonsense that was. I can handle the language. at least haltingly, and find myself speaking it as often as three times a week here in Los Angeles because my interlocutor can’t speak English. This is great for me–I love to practice–but lousy for them. They’re trapped on a treadmill. Anyone who has lived in Southern California for any period of time knows there is a huge (and growing) population that speaks only Spanish and, because they are cosseted in their own communities, has little impetus to change. This is of course dreadful for those people, almost always consigning them to the lowest rungs of society in terms of jobs and education. It also enhances the identity politics rife in our country under the fake guise of reactionary multi-culturalism.
But the “progressive” Obama declares the real problem is Americans who should be learning Spanish. Kaus has it right calling Barack a member of the Scarsdale bien pensant. But, perhaps more appropriate in this instance, would be, as they say in Mexico, “Qué cabrón más distinguido!” (More or less, “What a distinguished asshole!”)
Who would have thought America’s first black president would be a character out of Moliere’s Les Précieuses Ridicules? [Hey, enough with these languages.-ed. You’re right.]