Café au Lait, Sans Politics S’il Vous Plait

I know, I know, a black man might become the leader of the free world. But can a brother just enjoy Paris in the springtime?

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I'd had enough of the political horse race which seemed to consume every intelligent – and not so intelligent – conversation for months. So I left the country, hoping a week in France would rescue me from the unending palaver about the Democratic presidential campaign.

It didn't work. Seems the folks over there are just as consumed with and confused by American politics as the folks back here. Maybe, even more so.

Our hard fought primary campaign seemed to be on the tip of everyone's tongues. Or, as they say in Paris, 'tout le monde en parle.' So much for tuning out.

Walking along a Parisian boulevard, I spied a corner newsstand with screaming headlines about the U.S. elections. In particular, the Courrier International caught my attention: Obama contre tous: Rififi chez les democrates.

Though I don't read (or speak) French very well, it wasn't hard to decipher the story's meaning. The cartoon illustration showed Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as caricatured jockeys, astride donkeys and at each other's throats while John McCain plodded by on a turtle.

On the strength of this single piece of evidence, the French understand that the Democrats are wasting valuable time in an internecine battle while the GOP seems stuck in place. Very astute analysis from the supposedly haughty and self-absorbed French who aren't supposed to give a hoot about anything that didn't begin and end on their soil.

Nearly every time a French citizen heard my voice and pegged me as an American, the question soon followed: "Who will be your next president, Clinton or Obama?"

Huh? Was that the only choice? What about the Republican candidate, Monsieur McCain?

"Yes, yes," one man explained dismissively, "we know he's running, but we don't think much of President Bush or his party over here."

Maybe it's the company I attract, but Democrats seem to be in abundance around me, whether back in Ohio or in Paris. For the most part, I discovered the informed and English-speaking French of my acquaintance were certain that the surviving Democrat will be the next president. But they were just as confused about who would survive to Election Day.