GOP Congressman Won't Back Down on Macron Criticism, Despite Misunderstanding Crucial Word in His Speech

A GOP lawmaker from Kentucky refused to back down after criticizing French President Emmanuel Macron in a tweet, despite commenters pointing out that he had misunderstood a crucial word in the foreign leader's Wednesday address to Congress.

"French President is a socialist militarist globalist science-alarmist...the dark future of the American Democratic Party," tweeted Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie, who sometimes tweets under the hashtag #SassieWithMassie.

A commenter refuted Massie's claim, writing, "None of this is true, using fear rhetoric is not the answer." Massie then responded with what he thought was a direct quote from Macron's speech, but ultimately confused the words "multilateralism"—meaning multiple countries united in the same goal—with "militarism," which generally refers to the belief that a strong and aggressive military is essential for the promotion of national interests. He was quickly slammed for the mistake.

"I will advocate for militarism in front of the Congress," Macron said.

— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) April 25, 2018

.@EmmanuelMacron: "The United States is the one who invented this multilateralism. You are the one, now, who has to help to preserve and reinvent it.” 7/

— Atlantic Council (@AtlanticCouncil) April 25, 2018

Screen grabs of the exchange circulated far and wide on Twitter, with some posts earning thousands of retweets and shares. Massie, who has been serving in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2012, later clarified that the mix-up stemmed from news articles that incorrectly translated Macron's speech. But he insisted that his original criticisms of the French president still hold up.

He did not apologize for the remark or take down the tweet, despite some commenters urging him to do so. He instead went on Fox Business Network to "clarify" his first remark. Massie's office did not immediately return Newsweek's request for comment.

"Let's get real," Massie said. "He's the president of a socialist country. That, you know, they're lucky to work 20 hours a week. He started to preach to us about our method of government...."

Macron's speech, which included warnings about increasing climate change and nationalism, was widely interpreted as a rebuke to the Trump administration. As such, it was praised or pilloried depending largely upon party lines.

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his New Year wishes to the press at the Élysée Palace in Paris, on January 3. Macron’s recent congressional speech, which included warnings about climate change and and rising nationalism, was widely interpreted as a rebuke to the Trump administration. GETTY/Ludovic Marin