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Au Bon Clinton!

Bill Clinton is a former president and best-selling author. What could he do for an encore?

12:00 AM, Jun 25, 2004 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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I spent the first part of June seeing Paris. I didn't want to go home without having done so. I took a room in the Latin Quarter, finished reading George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, and saw all the sights, including the amazing small memorial to the Holocaust just behind Notre Dame. It's easy to miss, but worth the effort. You walk downstairs at the end of the island into a small space, turn around, and find yourself peering into a gas chamber.

Clinton was in Paris with a woman named Alice Chamberlin, incidentally, who he had met through "mutual friends." "We walked through the Tuilleries," he writes in My Life, "stopping at the ponds to watch the children and their sailboats; ate interesting and cheap Vietnamese, Algerian, Ethiopian, and West Indian food; scaled Montmartre; and visited the church called Sacre Coeur . . ."

Clearly President Clinton likes the food. But there is also the question of partisanship to consider. "Obviously he would be comfortable in the Socialist party, and probably this party would be comfortable with him!" Weil says. But I'm not so sure. Clinton was always more conservative than conservatives made him out to be. And conservatives in France are not, even rhetorically, enemies of "big government." Clinton could very well run as a Gaullist.

First he'd have to break the language barrier, however. I asked Weil if this would be a problem for Clinton. "I think this kind of political argument would fail if there were a need for new leadership," he told me. "After my article was published [in 2001], a national poll was made by a French magazine that said that 53 percent of French citizens would consider a Clinton candidacy favorably. I don't think the situation is the same today. But in politics, things can change rapidly!"

Matthew Continetti is a reporter at The Weekly Standard.