- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 9, 2014

When French President Francois Hollande arrives in the nation’s capital for a three-day state visit on Monday, he’s bringing much baggage, but not of the suitcase variety. He travels alone; Mr. Hollande is first lady-less, having spurned his longtime gal pal by dallying with a beautiful actress while leaving the unmarried mother of his four children at home as well. Lots to do, though: Mr. Hollande will visit the historic Monticello in Virginia on Monday with President Obama. Though it’s 117 miles from the White House, they’re taking Air Force One. Come Tuesday, Mr. Hollande attends a big, fat state dinner with 300 of his closest friends, then boards Air Force One once again with Mr. Obama the next morning, headed to California for a grande finale in Silicon Valley.

The socialist president has not been invited to address a joint session of Congress. Some critics blame House Speaker John A. Boehner for the slight. And while Mr. Hollande is here to talk up economic ties with the U.S., his various amours appear to make more compelling reading.

“Will Hollande make American women swoon?” asks Bloomberg contributor James Atlas, who points out that in France, the public is concerned more about image than moral center.

“The main criticism of Hollande isn’t that his conduct is immoral, but that it’s undignified,” Mr. Atlas says, noting that the French president’s lousy approval ratings at home actually rose once news of his romantic entanglements went public.

“On his trip to Washington, everyone will want a glimpse of this man whom women love, who disregards social norms and does what he wants. He’s kind of a jerk. So what? Most of us are,” Mr. Atlas says, adding that this constitutes “normal” behavior in France.

Word has leaked out that California wines and New Orleans cuisine will be served during a State Department luncheon for Mr. Hollande, though such details for the White House dinner have yet to be released. But officials added a signature frisson of public spectacle to Mr. Hollande’s visit.

“Join us for a White House Social French Arrival Ceremony,” reads the open White House invitation to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and Tumblr users, who vied for a chance to stand on the South Lawn when Mr. Hollande’s helicopter touches down. Yes, well. Should there be any swooning, the press, no doubt will be there.


Headlines of the aforementioned meeting between Presidents Obama and Hollande have not topped the old New York Post declaration that the French were part of an “Axis of Weasels” following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Here’s what’s out there: “Why Obama loves France” (Politico); “French break-up makes a dinner harder to do” (The New York Times); “A state visit gives France’s president a chance to improve his country’s image” (The Economist); “Why the French president needs Michelle Obama” (CNN) and “White House destroys Hollande state dinner invitations” (The Daily Telegraph).

The Telegraph explains: “The White House has discreetly destroyed hundreds of embossed invitations to a state dinner honoring Franois Hollande because they included a reference to his now former partner.”


“The level of security is quite appropriate. It’s very good.”

Janet Napolitano, former secretary of homeland security and head of the U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympic games, to CNN.

“I’ve never seen a greater threat in my lifetime . I think there’s a high degree of probability that something will detonate.”

— Rep. Mike McCaul, Texas Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, on “Fox News Sunday.”


A Kentucky Republican has warned Texans that the Lone Star State could turn Democratic in a decade if the party does not mend its ways, and open the proverbial big tent. This could prove a test case for the Grand Old Party.

“It doesn’t mean we give up on what we believe in. It means we have to be a more welcoming party,” Sen. Rand Paul told a Harris County GOP dinner in Houston on Saturday. “We have to welcome people of all races. We need to welcome people of all classes . We need a more diverse party. We need a party that looks like America.”

In Texas, 40 percent of the public is Hispanic, and of that number, 47 percent are Democrats and 27 percent are Republicans, says a new Gallup tracking poll of 16,000 Hispanics. Six out of 10 “non-Hispanic whites” are Republican, a quarter are Democrats. The poll also finds — and Mr. Paul should note this as potential strategy — Hispanics are the least likely of any demographic to register to vote.

“Long-suffering Texas Democrats appear to have some hope that their political fortunes in the Lone Star State could soon reverse. The growing Hispanic population, along with the solidly Democratic African-American population, present the best path for the party to move Texas out of its consistent red-state category and into a more competitive position,” says Gallup analyst Andrew Dugan.

“At the same time, the path toward victory for Democrats may not be as smooth or linear as this logic might suggest. Hispanics in Texas are more likely to identify as Republican than are Hispanics elsewhere, and the Republican Party in Texas has seen more growth in Hispanic support over the past five years than the Democratic Party,” Mr. Dugan observes. “While this has not changed the overall equation — Democrats still lead big among Texan Hispanics — it does suggest the GOP may be more competitive with this bloc than many assume.”


Tucked into the $1 trillion federal farm bill: an amendment that relaxes a 75-year-old restriction on growing and researching industrial hemp. Those with an eye on the potential $500 million industry are pleased.

“We are very eager to pursue the possibilities of growing hemp right here in the U.S.A. for our clothing production, and are actively seeking capital to procure land and begin research crops. Our current clothing line is dependent on hemp grown in China,” declares Mitch Rosenfield, president of Boston-based Hempist.com, which sells hemp wearables and accessories — though its line also includes hemp rolling papers.

“It could be grown better, and more efficiently right here in the U.S. For 18 years, we have sought to bring jobs and a cleaner, greener future to the U.S., and this bill allows for that to finally start,” says Mr. Rosenfield.


63 percent of Americans say the Democratic Party understands the “problems and concerns of women.”

47 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of conservatives, 85 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of liberals agree.

33 percent overall say the Democratic Party does not understand those problems and concerns.

47 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of conservatives, 13 percent of Democrats and 20 percent of liberals agree.

42 percent overall say the Republican Party understands the problems and concerns of women.

68 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of conservatives, 18 percent of Democrats and 24 percent of liberals agree.

55 percent overall say Republicans do not understand those problems and concerns.

27 percent of Republicans, 39 percent of conservatives, 79 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of liberals agree.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,010 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 31-Feb.

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