Monday, May 23, 2005

Freedom Fries


The words "freedom fries" are still on the menu in the U.S. House cafeteria, and are likely to appear in the first line of Walter Jones' obituary, perhaps with their lesser-known cousin, freedom toast.

The words came to Jones, as so many things do, by a combination of God's hand and a constituent's request.

They made him famous, for a moment, after 10 years in the U.S. House. Jones led the fight to rename fries and toast at the Capitol in protest of the French leading opposition to the war in Iraq.

Ask him about it now, and he lays his cheek in his left hand, a habit he repeats dozens of times a day when lost in thought or sadness.

"I wish it had never happened," Jones said.

Like many things about Jones, freedom fries lend themselves to caricature. They are an emotional response to a complex problem, easily reduced to a ticker line on CNN.

But Jones now says we went to war "with no justification." He has challenged the Bush administration, quizzing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other presidential advisers in public hearings. He has lined the hallway outside his office with "the faces of the fallen."

Jones represents the state's most military congressional district, running from Camp Lejeune along the coast through Cherry Point, up to the Outer Banks.

The real story is that he was playing to the locals then and he's playing to them now...