Global Politics

Bernard-Henri Levy on U.S. presidential race

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(As a leftist philosopher I'd like you to look at the candidates dispassionately and put them through a French cultural filter. What do the French get about each candidate and what doesn't translate? Let's start with McCain who said the U.S. should stop bailing out companies in the midst of the global economic crisis. Now the French are used to their government being active in that way, so what do you think of McCain's statement?) It is obvious that without the strong intervention of the federal state in the last days and weeks, America would be another Argentina. Maybe McCain doesn't know enough economics to understand that, but it's a fact. It's not a matter of socialism. Free market is the only way of ruling the modern economy, but with some regulations and in a dispassionate way. Obama seems to think that and react that way. (Do you think a lot of French would agree that McCain is not plugged into economic realities?) Let's forget about the French. For Americans themselves, the track records of McCain and Palin show they're ill equipped to lead an economy in dark times. (Well this is not supported by polls.) Well we the people can be wrong and be blind to our own interests. I'm convinced that McCain is a great guy, but I just know with the terrible crisis in which you are, the ideology of McCain is inappropriate. (How do the French view McCain?) As an American hero, as a good guy who was against some of the worst decisions of George W. Bush. So McCain is not the worst Republican, but he is ill equipped for the task. America is going to face some real problems today which are also then world problems because the U.S. is the most powerful economy in the world. (You still think the U.S. is the strongest economy in the world?) Yes. Russia is not there, China is rising but has not fully realized its economic power, same with India, but Europe is so weak on political terms that it cannot compete. I would add that the speed of the reaction, the way in which so many people in this country changed their mind on regulation, is a good thing and a positive sign. (So you like that Obama wants more regulation?) It's not about what I like, it's about how to get a hold of these dark times. If we left the free market alone, then the American economy will go to the abyss. And Obama, his ideas about regulations and the role of the state, is not bad for the state. I would like Obama to take these things further and have the state provide health insurance and give to the poorest. This is also the task of the state.

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