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Evergreen in Paris : Welcome to a Great Lady (1)

Evergreen in Paris : Welcome to a Great Lady (1)

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's political memoir focusing on her White House years as first lady flew off the shelves on its first day of release in New York City. "My eight years in the White House tested my faith and political beliefs, my marriage, and our nation's Constitution. I became a lightning rod for political and ideological battles waged over America's future and a magnet for feelings, good and bad, about women's choices and roles. This book is the story of how I experienced those eight years as first lady and the wife of the president" she said. Invited in Paris by Fayard, her French Publisher, she presented her book to the French Press entitled in French: "Mon histoire", in a country where she is considered by both Conservative and Social-Democrats as one of the best - if not the best - potential candidate for the Democratic Party for the next US presidential election. The French always appreciated and respected Mrs. Hillary Clinton, in who they see an outstanding wife and an intellectual. After signing copies of her book, she granted an interview to Christian Malar, Editor in Chief with France 3 TV corporation at the Hotel George V. Paris, July 2, 2003. (French full text). Photos Joël-François Dumont. Courtesy Christian Malar and France 3 TV.

Christian Malar: Mrs. Senator, Many thanks for talking to us and welcome to France.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Thank you.

Christian Malar: Before we speak about your book, entitled "Mon Histoire" I would like to know about how is "Evergreen"? How are "Eagle" and "Energy"?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: (Laugh) That’s wonderful the way you are putting it! Well, "Evergreen", meaning me, is very happy to be here in France, very much looking forward to my time here. And "Eagle" is doing well, working on his own book, and ‘Energy" is about to finish her degree at Oxford !

Christian Malar: So you mind us Eagle and Energy ?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: That’s right ! As you know from the book, those who are Secret Service Code Names: so I am Evergreen, my husband is "Eagle", the American Eagle of course, and my daughter is "Energy".

Christian Malar: How do you feel being in France at a time when, unfortunately and sadly, the relationship between our two countries are not, let’s put it this way, that great ?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Well, I am hopeful, that our relationship will get back on the right track, because, after all, it goes back to the beginning of our country.

  • We had no stronger ally and friend than France when we were fighting for Independence. We have been through so much together and I think that there always will be areas of disagreement.

  • We have different histories, different cultures.

We see the World from a different perspective, but we have to keep working to make sure that we understand one another, that we support one another, because we have much more in common that we do have differences.

Christian Malar: In your book, Mrs. Senator, concerning the first official dinner in the United States with Jacques and Bernadette Chirac, in February 1996, I was there,. you write: "I did not ignore anything about the ancient and complex relationship between France and America" and you write further: " Jacques Chirac’s personal sympathy for the United States is not enough to make sure of the French support to our policy ". Does that mean that you are disappointed by the French attitudes towards the US after what happened with the war in Iraq ?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Well, first, let me say that I very much enjoyed my relationship with the Chiracs. I like President Chirac personally a great deal. I enjoyed talking to him. I appreciate his experience in United States and I admire Mrs. Chirac. She actually was an elected official, which I found very interesting. And I visited her constituency and enjoyed myself very much.

I think personal relationships are extremely important among leaders and spouses and others, but I also think it’s imperative that US and France recognize that there may be points at which we diverge.

I regret that we had such a divergence with respect to Iraq. I think that on important matters of our concern, about the Weapons of mass Destruction, about the resolution 1441 in United Nations Security Council, our friends and United States were together.

I know that France was a strong supporter of what we had to do in Afghanistan and, of course, in the undertaking in the Balkans that my husband was needing for United States.

I think it’s important that we both recognize our common views and similarities and our deep relationship that goes back, and how many personal connections and that we look for ways where we can find common ground.

Where we have to disagree, we should do so respectfully, but I will hope that since France and United States have so many values in common, we have so many of the same concerns that we work very hard to get as close together always as possible.

Christian Malar: Mrs. Senator, a majority of the French had great admiration for you when you had to undergo this Monica Lewinsky affair. You write: "It was the most painful and devastating event of my life". Did you forgive Bill, the President, a great man, for good for ever ?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Yes to both. It is part of the past. This book really is about a chapter that has closed in my life. And as I write in the book, I found myself in a very unusual situation because, what should have remained private and personal was dragged into the public for partisan political purposes and that was regrettable because it was unfair to my family, and it was wrong for our country, but of course, I had to deal with it as a wife, as a mother, as woman, and as a citizen. So that I had, as I write, to deal with my marriage and to work to determine whether I wanted that to survive. And I had to stand with my President against this partisan political attacks that were designed to end his presidency.

  • The people behind them cared nothing about me or my family.

They were after power and they were after ending his presidency.

Christian Malar: Tell me everything: If the Democratic Party does need you badly to beat the Republicans in November 2004, would you accept to be a last minute candidate ?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: (Laugh)

Christian Malar: … Or would you wait until 2008, because you have been very successful in your job as a State Senator of New York right now ?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Well, it’s a very important job and I am very honored to be serving as the Senator from New York?

We have very good candidates running. I know that the news coverage is perhaps as full as it should be to give people in France and elsewhere an understanding of the quality of these people running. I do believe that we will have a candidate emerge as our nominee and this will be a very close election.

I know now that the headlines and the polls suggest that the President cannot be beaten. I don’t believe that, because, there are many policies of this administration which are not good for our country and people and beginning to feel that and by the election comes around I think that will be more evident.

Christian Malar: Did you encourage your husband – there are some rumors – that he might be running for Mayor of New York in 2005 ? You would be the State Senator? He would be the City Mayor, that would be great !

Hillary Rodham Clinton: (Laugh) He too has said he has no intention, no interest in doing that. It’s very flattering, I must confess. It’s flattering for people to think of us in these terms.

My husband is very happy. He is writing his book. He is working on his foundation. He is working in Africa and Asia to try to end HIV-Aids as an epidemics and to provide economic opportunities to people. So he has full agenda himself right now.

Christian Malar: Your are still fighting very hard for education, and healthcare. Can you explain us now how the United States, a great country, the greatest of the World, can have forty million Americans without Social Security ?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: You know, I wish I could answer that question. As to why we have forty million Americans who do not have health insurance in our country which is such a rich country and which has such a wonderful healthcare system.

But our system has developed without much thought or care and there are many different interest with in it, that frankly make quite a bit of money from the existing system as it stands today.

And there is a very strong movement within the Republican Party led by this Administration to end all social programs, to end what we call Medicare which is our social healthcare program for the elderly and what we call Medicaid which provides healthcare for the very poor and people with disabilities.

  • They only believe in the market !

You know, I gave a speech some years ago that I know was reprinted here in France, saying that:

"Society is like a three-leg stool:

- it must have a strong market-economy because we know that it’s the best way to create jobs

- It must have a strong functioning government and

- a strong civil society and

  • if one gets out of balance with the other, then the stool falls over.

And I fear that right now the Republican right wing is instant upon strengthening only the market. And you know the market cannot provide healthcare for very poor people. There is no money in taking care of the very poor. That is what social insurance is for, that is what the program that I have championed are for, so we have a big debate that is occurring right now.

Christian Malar: Everybody does hope again today that the Middle East Peace process is back on the track. But former President Clinton, your husband, was really, and you know that, on the verge of being very successful last December 2000. And it seems – I think it was right – that everything failed because of Yasser Arafat. And you speak about Yasser Arafat and you say he was not ready to make the necessary and difficult choices for peace, even if he is behind the curtain, let us put it this way today.

  • Do you think things might be successful this time ?

Hillary Rodham Clinton: I think we have a new opportunity.

Because the Palestinian people had decided what they want. They chance and they have a new leader, Mr. Abbas, to try to reach some kind of negotiation with the Israelis. I think it is important that United States and Europe support the Abbas efforts.

Yasser Arafat has proven to me and to many of us who have followed him and worked with him that he his not a leader for the future. He is a leader of the past.

And it is important he is not given an opportunity to derail this chance for the Palestinian people, especially the children to have a better future.

Christian Malar: Mrs. Senator, may be one of these days - Mrs. President, one never knows - you can say "never" in politics and you know that, I want to wish you all the best and thank you for having given us your time.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Thank you. And I appreciate your coverage. Thank you very much.


© Michael Thompson

- "Living History", by Hillary Rodham Clinton: Simon & Schuster, June 2003 (576 pages, $28.00)

- "Mon Histoire", (Fayard, 673 p., 25 €) Traduit de l’anglais (Etats-Unis) par Odile Demange, Jean-Paul Mourlon et Marie-France de Paloméra.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).