Première Dame

Hillary Clinton Paris 1994When we were still new in France, the American president and first lady made a state visit.

What’s interesting about this French television news report from 1994 is that journalist Anne Sinclair leads the story with Hillary Clinton, as if somehow anticipating the greater role to come for the woman who was then Première Dame.

This week for the first time in France we have begun to hear journalists talk about Hillary Clinton not just as a former first lady or would-be candidate, but quite possibly the first woman president of the United States.

The Clintons returned to France in 1996 for the G7 summit that was held in Lyon. Oh, the excitement that bubbled in France’s second city! I remember it being a very big deal as world leaders converged upon our city, and a lot of ink was spilled as local politicians gushed about Lyon finally having its hour of glory. I also remember the epic traffic jams as major routes around the city were closed.

One of the most memorable moments, at least for this viewer, came during Bill Clinton’s speech. The interpreter was Nelson Montfort, an oft-spoofed TV personality here in France. With his marked American accent (surely put on, after all these years?), he is known for live commenting of sports events and televised interviews with famous athletes in English and French. I’m not sure how great his English really is though.

On this day, he was doing live interpreting of Clinton’s speech on French TV. As Americans are wont, Clinton made a reference to God. “And I want to thank the Lord Jesus,” he said, with his southern drawl.

There was an awkward pause. Then Nelson spoke up and said, in French: “Je crois qu’il veut remercier Luigi?”

I think he wants to thank Luigi.

If Hillary actually does become the first woman president of the US, I hope we can find a better interpreter.

And if it’s Trump? Better start praying to the Lord Jesus.