Eminentoes

A Tale of Two Julias

One of them didn't let government cook for her.

By 5.10.12

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This is the story of two ladies named Julia -- one real and one not -- and of their ties to the land of France. The real Julia found her fate and fortune among the Gauls when she discovered French cuisine and determined to spread the word, and the recipes, to all American cooks. For its ability to inspire and teach her, the real Julia truly belonged in France; and made the most of all it had to offer her.

The imaginary Julia lives in cyberspace on a timeline created by the Obama reelection campaign. Imaginary Julia is depicted as a lifelong -- from ages 3 to 67 -- dependent of the federal government, and specifically of President Obama who mysteriously seems to be in office all 64 years. For her propensity toward public handouts and seeming lack of self-reliance, she too belongs in France. Dependent Julia will certainly make the most of all that the new socialist government there has to offer her.

The real Julia came of age during World War II and was too tall for military service, and so she worked in Washington as a file clerk and then a research assistant for the Office of Strategic Services (predecessor to the CIA). By 1944 she was posted in Asia with the OSS and received an "Emblem of Meritorious Civilian Service" for her "drive and inherent cheerfulness." In Asia she met and married her husband and following the war, went with him to his new posting in Paris. It was in the town of Rouen that Julia had her first meal -- oysters, sole meunière and fine wine -- a meal that "opened up the soul and spirit for me." More than that it opened years of hard work, failures, restarts, rejections, and single minded drive before Julia Child finally published her famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1961.

The imaginary Julia, though we cannot tell about her "soul and spirit" other than her spirited reliance on government, certainly does not seem to show the "drive" that won real Julia that Emblem award, or that led to the real Julia's culinary masterpiece. Imaginary Julia simply moves from Head Start to Pell Grants to low interest repayments, to guaranteed birth control, to government sponsored business loans and finally to her golden years on Medicare and Social Security. Columnist Ross Douthat finds in "the whole production a curiously patriarchal quality, with Obama as a beneficent Daddy Warbucks." And says Congressman Paul Ryan, "it's just the narrative that they're trying to tell, that for this woman to succeed, she has to have really big government."

Even the Left has objected. Here is MSNBC's Morning Joe Scarborough: "Who brushes her teeth?" and his sidekick Willie Geist: "No one wants to think that from the age of three they are going to need the government to take care of them." Plus Mike Allen of Politico: "those young people in the [Obama] headquarters… create viral pieces of content for the web.… This one I think may be viral in the wrong way."

The real Julia was what Americans should be and always have been: entrepreneurial, determined, persevering and self-reliant. Imaginary Julia is the ideal vision of the liberal woman: entitled, dependent, weak and unquestioning. Worst of all, she is the "forward" direction that Obama and the Democrats want to take us. Let's send them all to France.

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About the Author

Manon McKinnon is a writer living in Falls Church, Virginia.