Europeans Love Clinton -- If Wall Street Doesn't Sour

Article excerpt

PARIS -- Just as Ronald Reagan was a hero to conservatives everywhere, Bill Clinton has become an icon for left-of-center politicians in Europe.

Despite the president's personal woes, political leaders over here have not hesitated to attach themselves to his banner, endorsing the Clinton administration's brand of market economics and social enlightenment.

France's Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, who heads Europe's most dogmatic socialist party, came close to declaring himself a Clinton disciple a few weeks ago. He acknowledged that the French could learn a lot from Clinton's flexible policies which, he said, had brought America unmatched prosperity. No French leader had ever gone that far in praising any U.S. leader.

Gerhard Schroeder, the German Social Democrats' candidate to replace conservative Helmut Kohl as chancellor in elections next month, declared last week in Washington that he would copy many Clintonian policies if elected in order to stimulate his country's spotty economy and bring down high unemployment. For a German politician to confess that in the realm of economics Germany has much to learn from anyone else is something of a first.

Italy's left-of-center Prime Minister Romano Prodi is also a frank admirer of Clinton's record. And British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who heads a Labor Party government, is a charter member of the president's fan club abroad. His desire to emulate Clinton is so open that it embarrasses some of his more left-leaning government colleagues. …