I’ve got just one little point that I haven’t seen any comment as yet which I noticed while listening to a rebroadcast of last night’s debate between Clinton and Obama in Austin.
There was a question regarding having 2 languages spoken in the US (English and Spanish presumably). Here’s a transcript (courtesy of the Chicago Sun Times) of the question and the first part of Clinton’s answer (bold emphasis is mine):
RAMOS: (SPEAKING SPANISH) Right now, there are more than 30 million people in this country who speak Spanish.
Many of them are right here. By the year 2050, there will be 120 million Hispanics in the United States. (SPEAKING ENGLISH) Now, is there any downside, Senator Clinton, to the United States becoming, becoming a bilingual nation? Is there a limit?
CLINTON: Well, I think it’s important for as many Americans as possible to do what I have never been able to do, and that is learn another language and try to be bilingual because that connects us to the rest of the world.
I think it is important, though, that English remain our common unifying language because that brings our country together in a way that we have seen generations of immigrants coming to our shores be able to be part of the American experience and pursue the American dream. You know, I have been adamantly against the efforts by some to make English the official language. That I do not believe is appropriate, and I have voted against it and spoken against it.
So, I think the response from both Clinton and Obama are typical Liberal double-talk. The underlying goal being (perhaps) to build a larger base of non-English speaking constituents who are more easily manipulated (I say this as an assumption of the Left, not that I truly believe it) and beholden to the wonderful Democrats who will make sure that they don’t have to learn English to live free in the US.
What’s interesting is the part in bold. On the one hand, I find it (briefly) refreshing for a candidate to admit a shortcoming. However, I’m confused. I know Clinton is a little older than I, but when I entered college, I was required to have have had at least a full year of a foreign language (I had 2 years of German and 1.5 years of French in High School… another year of German in college). How in the world did she get past that requirement? I also find it amusing that something that has been a baseline expectation in the past is so out of the main stream that she feels comfortable saying, more or less, “Yes, I also have been disadvantaged by a lack of education.”
Oh, yeah. I’m wondering how many of our Presidents spoke languages other than English. According to Wikipedia, Martin Van Buren’s native language was Dutch (he was the only President whose native language was not English). I’ve found some unsubstantiated references to GW Bush speaking Spanish. I’ve found no overarching resource yet to quantify this. It seems to me, however, that our head of state should have an adequate education to be able to handle at least one or two other languages. Spanish and German seem particularly appropriate, with Russian and Chinese (not sure which dialect) close behind. As I’ve said in the past, one of the largest areas of responsibility of the President is Foreign Policy and Relationships with Foreign Leaders. Making those Foreign Leaders speak English, or forcing everything to be translated, is not a good way to build positive relationships (especially with the French… oh wait, never mind). According to Answerbag.com (probably not the most reliable source, but it will do for now), the Head of State of the smallest independent nation/state speaks 10 languages. That would be Pope Benedict XVI, who is also the (ex officio) Head of State of Vatican City.
And Hillary Clinton, who wants to be President of the most powerful nation in the world, only speaks English.
Oh, here’s a picture of her speaking to supporters in Brooklyn (remember, they have 170 different languages spoken in NYC), waiting for the translation before proceeding to her next point.
Thanks to NPR (National Public Radio) for rebroadcasting the debate so I could catch some of this tonight.