Says Fred in his classic Fredsian style:
I’m not sure that intelligence has much place in diplomacy, other than to let one make bad choices in better prose. Still, misjudgment engaged in with class at least makes better reading for later students of history. Whatever their failings, the French do not cultivate boorishness as a compulsory credential of democracy, lie systematically to their children, or endeavor to crush intellectual endeavor. We didn’t either, once.
America once had a brash, rough, leather-breeches style with a cornpone but genuine appeal. The genius of America was the pawky outsider laughing at European pretensions, the lethal wit of Twain, Bierce, Mencken, and Hunter Thompson. The country wielded canny frontiersman like Davy Crockett, enjoyed the cracker-barrel shrewdness of Andrew Jackson, who figured that Bourbon belonged in branch water and not on a throne.
Thing is, backwoods virility doesn’t well make the transition to suburbia. The American unease with ideas didn’t sit badly on Huck Finn, Daniel Boone, or, in the Heroic Age of American technology, the buzz-cut engineers working on Apollo. But put Tom Sawyer on Ritalin in deliberately crippled suburban schools to keep him from being a boy; teach him that to be manly is sexist and that to be educated is elitist; wean him from independence and self-determination but give him nothing to replace them; rigorously discourage intellectual enterprise-and you get the polar opposite of a Frenchman.