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France aghast as Economist mocks baguette-wielding Obama

British news magazine The Economist has managed to upset the French again, this time by publishing a mock-up of Barack Obama in a stripy T-shirt, red scarf and blue beret, accompanied by the words “broken” and “lousy”.


At first glance the cover might be misconstrued as a light-hearted jibe – photoshopping a beret onto the US president’s head seems like such a juvenile idea, it’s a surprise more people don’t laugh at The Economist rather than with it – but once you start reading the blistering editorial that follows, it’s quite clearly not.


The attack is meant for American politicians, which The Economist berates for mishandling the so-called “fiscal cliff” debt crisis. But by comparing their behaviour with European leaders, The Economist succeeds in offering a hearty helping of Brussels-bashing – its favourite hobby – at the same time.


“Washington’s pattern of dysfunction is disturbingly similar to the euro zone’s in three depressing ways,” it begins, going on to describe the deal as “lamentable” and “an abject failure,” meanwhile slapping EU policy-makers as “incompetent” and “incapable”.


Now, for an American reader, this is an insult to their leaders – getting called a European, in political terms, is slander in the States. For a European reader, it’s even worse. The question is not how bad their leaders are; they are doing so unquestionably badly that they have become the benchmark for how bad somebody else is doing.  


But for a Frenchman, who is still, at this point, staring at the picture of beret-ed Obama, his crusty baguettes and the words “lousy” and “broken” on the front cover, this is most definitely an insult to the French.



Predictably, the French press responded to the cover with a lot of feet-stamping and spitting of feathers. Within hours of its publication dozens of articles – not to mention threads of garbled and angry comments – had appeared online.


The use of the marinière T-shirt will be particularly painful for France’s industry minister, Arnaud Montebourg, who only recently used it as a symbol of French-made success, sporting one himself, just months previously, on the front of a French magazine.


Montebourg has already made his feelings clear about The Economist, which he said in November “has never been known for its sense of moderation,” following uproar over an even harsher bout of France-bashing.



The Economist, of course, has made its own feelings clear about France on several occasions. In April this year, during the run-up to the French presidential election, the magazine featured rivals François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy reclining in a forest with bread rolls, fruit and naked companions, apparently unaware of the European crisis, in a take on Édouard Manet’s ‘The Luncheon on the Grass’.



As for their reaction to the winner…



Although back in 2010, Sarkozy got a much rougher deal.



But what, might you ask, of a German reader who finds House Speaker John Boehner tacked into Bavarian lederhosen? If the initial reaction is anything to go by, the Germans seem to have either taken the upper ground or laughed off the joke – not one single German publication had bothered to mention the cover on Friday afternoon. If the French really want to be left alone, then perhaps they should take note…

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C'mon where is your humor? By your logic the Germans should feel even more upset.This is really more a strike against the tea party and the dysfunctional state of US politics -than it is against/about France; just like Borat was more about the US than about Kazakhstan. It is about the world according to the tea party. Obama is portrayed as elitist and pro-welfare state. What is wrong about having refined manners and a welfare state? As for the populist German in lederhausen with his beer putch attitude, no comment necessary.
Why get upset? Lots of opportunities to strike back in kind using symbols like the Union Jack, Big Ben, bad teeth, Spotted Dicks, etc. Let's not forget the UK is not the model of financial virtue, what with the Libor scandal still reverberating around the world and the Thatcher deregulation legacy still crippling global markets.
Please, Please, Please. The ENGLISH News Magazine. Lets kick the moaning groaning Ros Biffs out of the EU. And lets have no more from those UKIP Clowns. They should be the EIP. France is so so lucky, nearly 30 kilometers of water between you and the never happy with anything Sassenachs.
Obama certainly could have a future as a French politician. I would gladly turn him over to France for a cheap bottle of Bordeaux.
Well, we're expecting the French to hit back. Wait and see...
The Economist magazine supported the incompetent leader Obama in the last election so I don't think we need to take any notice of what they have to say about the US's fiscal position.
I think this US,UK Politics has gone to be crazy. Economist should start writing about economy not politics.. How much do they pay you one may ask, would it not be a good idea to write about how the world is going up and down economically in stead of writing bullshit like this?
Les grenouilles need to get a sense of humour.
LOL both the French and Obama administrations resent being compared to each other. Obama and Hollande are in a race to the bottom, but like to pretend they aren't alike.
Typical liberal logic, equality equals good. If one improves his lot in life, he must have done it unfairly, because Alf forbid being unfair and making any kind of judgement call is just so darn unfair! Thinking people you must stop, thinking causes individualism. Shut up and follow, be fair, be equal, be stupid!
Don't worry Frenchies, don't take it personally... The Americans are mainly concerned about selling their magazine, using a flashy controversial cover, rather than taking a bash at the French. Remember, their world stretches as far as Mexico in the South and Canada in the North (They heard from the Canadians that there is a country called France, where they speak like people from Quebec...)
A satirical look at others religion (a Muslim Prophet) in the French media is considered fine for the 'higher minds', but the French are aghast when it is directed at one of their own. What kind of nonsense is that? The truth is the French just can't take any criticism of themselves.
The French, God love them, have a term for phonies--"poseur." Our poseur is still idolized by a corrupt mass media including Time, which named him "Person of the Year," an honor it previously bestowed on Hitler and Stalin.
The British penchant of stoking ethnic hatred is as old as the empire itself. If somebody questions them on the mayhem their hatred has caused they will claim it is all in good fun, but the mass murder of the Irish in the 19th century belies their claim of would do well to remember the substantial support Hitler had amongst England's upper class and America's anglophiles. The British will continue to revel in their crude humor...the best the world can do is to shake it's collective head and rightfully compare the English so afflicted, to KKK members.
The Brits have every right to blast the failings of the US, and the inept Socialists in France - where the worst is yet to come.
Not all Americans disagree with the Economist. Those of us who are reviled conservatives who believe in constitutionally limited government have known for a long time that the self-annointed one is not a leader, but is rapidly taking us on the path to becoming Europe.
Some believe life in Europe under a Socialist government is pretty bad. More in the USA now believe life under an ignorant, arrogant, Marxist is unbearable and intolerable.
Jokes, mock-ups between Brits and Frenchmen are still growing crazy. However , Britons have somewhat a too much love to the French since England motto goes : Je Me Souviens (I remember).
Obama a baguette-wielding lad…Dear The Economist –editor, isn't this jest of yours too much?... Well, anyway I doesn’t cheat the blues neither trigger any laugh.
French justify cartoons about Mohamed, the Islam prophet, in the name of press freedom. In the same name they need to accept caricature from foreign press ...
As usual, The Economist nailed it. Don't blame a mag because you voted in the idiot Socialists, France.
The world is being run by idiots - and reported on by bigger idiots.
What's particularly hypocritical is the British government has engaged in the same stupid austerity policies as the Eurozone, and it's in no better shape. It doesn't have the crisis of the depressed parts of the eurozone, but it's worse off than the healthier eurozone countries. At least the French government is taing the only course that has a hope of turning around the economy, though given how France is yoked to the rest of the eurozone, it might not be enough. What's unfair from a US point of view is only one of our parties is dysfunctional. Unfortunately, the Republicans have enough power to inflict their misery on everybody. The Democrats, on the other hand, saved us from Europe's fate (including Britain) through fiscal stimulus policies and their trying to get more, but with power divided at the federal level, there's not much they can do.
Bravo to "The Economist"!
This is the reason I long since cancelled my subscription to the magazine. I found it had little to offer in economics but was more a political platform. This time they may have gone too far. I am reminded of the expression about opinions. Everyone has an opinion as well as .. body parts.
The French have always been sensitive souls, but humourless with it