Hillary Clinton - An Icon of American Exceptionalism

Bernard-Henri Lévy is a French public intellectual, media personality, and author. You may follow him on Twitter @BHL

HILLARY Rodham Clinton is the current American political figure that interests me the most. The political attacks to which she is being subjected will not change my mind—quite the contrary. When I say that she interests me, I am thinking of what she embodies.

I think of the image, the aspect of America that she projects, which I have trouble detecting elsewhere—not among the Republicans, of course, whose great heritage is imperiled (if not threatened with ruin); but neither among other Democrats. Currently, I can find no better exemplar of the combined ethics of conviction and responsibility than Mrs. Clinton.

American Pastoral
I think of the tradition, the great tradition—and, speaking in the manner of Philip Roth, fresh from his study of Jewish thought, the great American pastoral-of which, at the present moment, she appears to be one of the most worthy heirs.

I would characterize that tradition as a blend of the best of Wilsonianism in foreign policy, a remarkable fidelity to American exceptionalism, and a concern for social welfare influenced by the European model. It seems to have been forgotten that, two decades ago, that social concern brought forth an attempt to reform the healthcare system that was far bolder than the one eventually implemented by U.S. President Barack Obama.

But I think, also, of the incredible resilience, rare strength of character, and guts that she has shown in the face of the current lynching campaign. Need I say that, as seen from France, that campaign is pretty hard to understand. In the effort to hunt down email messages, there is an aspect of rummaging through the garbage that strikes a strange chord.

But the essential thing is the quality of the woman; her solidity in the midst of an extraordinary storm. The singular mastery with which nature appears to have endowed her. On at least three occasions, the circumstances of my life and work have brought me into contact with this exceptional person. I am happy to have the chance to describe those circumstances and those encounters. These represent my contribution to the portrait of the woman I hope will become the Forty-fifth President of the United States of America.

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