I'm mad again, and it's all because of a quote I found in the New York Times from a French person named Francois Heisbourg of the French Foundation.

This is what he had to say about President Bush's State of the Union message:

"We tend to see Sept. 11 in parentheses, an aberration that is now behind us. But the Bush speech makes clear that is not the case for the U.S. For Americans, Sept. 11 marks a strategic change in the landscape. And that will be very jarring for many people here to hear."

That quote was so amazing that I cut it out and put it in my wallet. I'm going to have it laminated so I can pull it out when I need to. It is startling in its —  what's the word? — naiveté? No, too nice. How about thick-headedness? Yes, that's better.

Imagine. Many people 'here', meaning Europe or France, are going to find it jarring that Americans take Sept. 11 seriously, that we won't just forget it. That we won't just walk away. That we can't imagine absorbing an insolent and impudent hit like that without taking on those responsible.

Mon Dieu! The Americans... they are ticked! How could that be?

The French are sitting around in cafes over a good Bordeaux wondering how President Bush could still be flogging that tiresome Sept. 11 thing.

They didn't think they were going to have to be disrupted by a retribution war conducted by the Americans without their permission. They didn't think they were going to have to be embarrassed like that. And they thought that if the cowboy Bush wanted to act on his own, at least the civilized Democrats would help out by objecting and blocking some of Bush's ambition. But no. Even Joe Lieberman is threatening a war in which America goes solo.

A strategic change in the landscape, they call it. Well yes, indeed.

Now we know that this we-hate-America terrorism stuff isn't a bunch of blowhards venting. We know it is and can be real. So we do what we have always done — we foray outside the fortress and lay waste to the threat.

And the French are surprised. They find it jarring. How could anybody be so ... well it's an impolite word... but how could anybody be so thick-headed?

That's My Word.

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