Back in 1972, Edmund Muskie’s candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination got done in before it started because of the false charge that he had denigrated New Englanders of French Canadian descent as "Canucks."
Adam Hasner, who is Jewish, and knows a thing or two (or should) about ethnic sensibilities, has decided it’s okay to make an issue of George LeMieux’s French ancestry.
Hasner, a former top lawmaker in Florida’s state legislature, and LeMieux, appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist to fill in as U.S. senator after Mel Martinez retired, are now both vying for the GOP nod to attempt to unseat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) next year.
Crist is seen by the Florida GOP (and by the national GOP, to a degree) as a turncoat for not accepting the party’s choice of Marco Rubio in the 2010 U.S. Senate election and running as an independent — a perception exacerbated by Rubio’s win and his continued popularity as a U.S. senator.
So Hasner wants to link LeMieux to Crist. Fair enough.
But this shot my eyebrows up: In an email today, Hasner asks donors to affix bumper stickers to their cars saying "LeMieux: It’s French for Crist!".
Below that, there’s a web address, CharlieCristRepublican.com, lending the impression that Crist is endorsing this message. In letters so tiny that you’d risk a fenderbender to make them out, passers-by are informed that it is Hasner, in fact, who is paying for this.
Extra points also for the fey script used for LeMieux’s name. Those French guys! Tralala and lah-dee-dah, if you know what I mean!
I’m not sure how much of a controversy this will stoke. French Canadian identity (among Americans of French Canadian descent) is much less pronounced than it was in the 1970s. Not long ago, I read a Washington Post profile of Christine Lagarde, the new IMF chief, in which she recalled her first DC job, when she was an exchange student in her teens. She worked for then Sen. William Cohen (R-Maine), answering letters from his French constituents. It was a poignant memory: The French Canadians of Maine have been assimilated, and would no longer need such a service.
In his email, Hasner gets in this dig: "Now George LeMieux wants Floridians to say ‘c’est la vie’ and believe his reinvention as a conservative is legitimate?"
C’est la vie? Adam, it doesn’t have to be. Aren’t there more straightforward — and less divisive — ways to making the point about LeMieux’s Crist ties?