French Prez

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images (Palin); Superstock (Baguette)

Republicans have called Barack Obama the sort of candidate Europeans would elect U.S. president if they could. So we decided to ask a French philosopher, Bernard-Henri Lévy, who has a new book, Left in Dark Times, and a 92nd Street Y talk September 18, what he thinks Obama should do.

“I would begin by reminding him of the first thing he said to me at our meeting four years ago in Boston, ‘America is a country of meteors; next month somebody else will be the story.’ For now the story is Sarah Palin, so I would have him target the singular idea this woman has about truth, about family, to ask the voters if they are ready to give the keys to the White House to a woman who said when she was running for governor of Alaska, to discuss in the schools— as if they were remotely the same thing—both the science of Darwinism and the fraud that is creationism.

“I would beg him to speak directly, solemnly, to the women of this country, asking them if they are prepared to see themselves in this caricature of a free woman who plans to deny her peers one of their most cherished and hard-won rights, the right to an abortion. I would underline the cynicism, the absence of feeling one must have to exhibit in front of the world’s television cameras that which a mother should hold most dear, most private, and painfully precious: a child with Down syndrome. I would advise him to assign this task to Hillary.

“He is the only man—the representative of a visible minority but who also represents the great citizen’s ideal inherited from the Philadelphia convention—who can pull America away from the ghettoization of communities. And Palin’s slogan is less ‘Country first’ than ‘Alaska for the Alaskans.’”

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French Prez