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June 16, 2005

Valéry Giscard d’Estaing: We Erred By Letting People See The Constitution Before Asking Them To Approve It

A-hem. Europeans increasingly just don't speaka de democracy, do they?

One crucial mistake was to send out the entire three-part, 448-article document to every French voter, said Mr Giscard.

Over the phone he had warned Mr Chirac already in March: “I said, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it’”.

“It is not possible for anyone to understand the full text”.

Speaking of not understanding:

Of course, Giscard d'Estaing was quoted by the New York Times sometime back as saying he patterned himself after Thomas Jefferson, whom he said wrote the US Constitution.

Problem is, James Madison was the main author of the Constitution. Jefferson, who was in France
at the time, didn't even read the Constitution until three months after it was adopted.

Details, details. But Giscard d'Estaing's smart, and writes things we can't understand.

There's a quote I love from Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. The set up is that Dirk, a PI with a sketchy reputation, has bluffed his way into a crime scene, and is fencing words with a cop he considers to be his intellectual inferior. The cop turns his back for a moment, and Dirk steals the thing he came to steal (the tape from the answering machine).

"You can put the tape back now," the cop says [all this is approximate "quoting.']

"Huh?" Dirk says.

"If I turn my back on you, it's just to give you the opportunity to take what I know you've come to take. I didn't know what you wanted to take, so I turned away to see what would be missing when I turned back again."

"I see," Dirk says, taking the tape out of his pocket.

"You're a clever man, Gently," the cop says. "But you make the same mistake a lot of clever people do. You assume that because you're smart, everyone else must be stupid."

Those who fancy themselves our political and intellectual leaders, both here and in Europe, would be wise to bear that cop's admonition in mind.

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posted by Ace at 01:07 PM

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