The defining feature of Tony Blair's tenure in Downing Street was supposed to be that he would lead Britain to its rightful position at the heart of Europe.
By that criteria, his eight years in office must be judged a failure.
He has managed to fall out with our neighbours on the Continent just as dramatically as Margaret Thatcher ever did. Indeed, none of her rows with the French became quite as bad-tempered as the current one, in which the President Chirac has described Britain's stance as pathetic.
Labour MPs must find it all a little confusing. For a long time, they have portrayed themselves as the pro-European party and the Tories as a bunch of xenophobic French-hating nutters.
Suddenly, it seems that bashing the French is not only okay, but expected. Tony Wright, the Labour MP for Cannock in Staffordshire, got in on the act during Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, asking whether Mr Blair agreed that what was really pathetic was the Common Agricultural Policy, so beloved of the French.
But the Blair-Chirac row is remarkably useful - for both politicians.
Only a paranoid could believe they actually dreamt it up between them. But if they had been scheming in some private corner, this is the sort of thing they would have come up with.
The French rejection of the European Constitution has put a major spanner in the works of the great European project, something Mr Chirac has dedicated his life to.
There are two possible explanations for the vote. One is that the nation was unhappy with their President, and saw the vote as a way of giving him a bloody nose. The other possibility is even more disturbing for the Euro-enthusiasts - that the vote should be taken at face value as a genuine rejection of the European project.
But the French political establishment is wedded to the European ideal, and if the population has rejected it then they have, in effect, rejected their political masters.
From Mr Chirac's point of view, picking a fight with the British is a useful smokescreen to distract attention from these disturbing possibilities.
It also allows him to appear to do something about one, although only one, of the concerns French voters apparently had about the constitution, that Europe is becoming too "Anglo-Saxon".
But the row is also useful for Blair. Less than two months ago, he emerged from a General Election looking battered and weakened.
Some of his own MPs had been arguing the forthcoming British referendum was the only reason for keeping Mr Blair around - and that he would go once our own vote had been completed.
When the French and Dutch killed off the constitution, that reason vanished.
But Mr Blair has bounced back by, once again, re-inventing himself.
It turns out that arguing with the French and accusing the EU of wasting billions of pounds of British taxpayers' money is actually the pro-European position after all. He's even managed to link opposing the Common Agricultural Policy with ending poverty in Africa and, indirectly, with the Live8 concerts.
Once again Blair has demonstrated the Midas touch.