Institut Pasteur
Paris, France

3:20 P.M. CEST
 
     Q    Madam Vice President, one question from the French media?
 
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Of course.
 
Q    Is the best place for reconciliation between Paris and Washington here in Institut Pasteur?  A crew from America and from France working together —
 
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Yes.
 
Q    — this is a good sign for the reconciliation between the two countries? 
 
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  It’s — and it’s not only a sign of the current state of the relationship and our dedication to the future, but it is also an incredible statement about the history of the relationship between France and the United States on many issues but, in particular, on scientific research. 
 
Some of the most significant discoveries in science on any issue — from rabies, to HIV/AIDS, to breast cancer, to mRNA and what we do around vaccines and pandemics — have occurred here in collaboration with French scientists, American scientists, scientists from around the world coming together. 
 
And I know this just based on my entire life experience as the daughter of my mother — which is the work happens around the globe and it’s collaborative.  And it is the best kind of work that can happen, in that the people who do this work really have an ability to see what is possible, unburdened by what has been.  They have the ability to believe that it is possible to improve human life and the condition of life. 
 
And I think that’s some of the most noble and exciting work.  It is about innovation.  It is about creativity.  It’s about commitment.  The discoveries that they make take long, long hours.  I mean, these — these machines that you see — the work that gets done here, it is taskwork.  It is long days of watching the experiment and testing it and monitoring it and tracking small, small developments — and sometimes nothing — and then going back and not giving up and trying another approach.
 
One of the things I think people in politics and government should really take from the approach of scientists: Scientists operate with a hypothesis.  I love that.  A hypothesis.  It’s well thought out.  It’s well planned.  They start out with a hypothesis.  And then they test it out — knowing invariably if you’re trying something for the first time, there will be glitches, there will be mistakes. 
 
Then everyone gets together, no one gets beat up about it.  You analyze it — what went wrong? — reevaluate, update the hypothesis, and start again.
 
With us in government, we campaign with “The Plan” –uppercase “T,” uppercase “P” — “The Plan.”  And then the environment is such that we’re expected to defend “The Plan,” even when the first time we roll it out, there may be some glitches and it’s time to reevaluate and then do it again. 
 
I think that if we in public policy and in public offices thought more and if the culture around our work was more like scientists, I think we’d see a lot more work getting done. 
 
Q    That means that you need to be civilian people inside politics, no?
 
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  (Laughs.)  Exactly.  But it’s good to be here — very good to be here.  And thank you.
 
Q    Is that a criticism of the current process that is going on with the Build Back Better?
 
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  No, it’s just a general statement.  I’ve been saying this for years.  I think that if we all agree that we want to encourage innovation, if we want to encourage good ideas — every good idea, any good idea —
 
I like to cook.  The first time you try a recipe, it’s usually not perfect, and then you reevaluate.  “Oh, that was too much salt, not enough — you know, not enough whatever.”  And you make it the second time and it’s better.  And your family, the first time, says, “Hmm, it’s a little salty.”  But, you know, nobody is mad at you.  And then you reconvene and you do it better the next time.  This is the nature of innovation, the nature of doing things a new way. 
 
And my only admonition is that: Let’s encourage innovative thought.  Let’s encourage being better. 
 
But let’s also understand that it is part of the nature of a process that encourages breaking out of status quo to be better that there will be glitches, there will be mistakes.  But if the — if you don’t make the same mistake twice and if it is on a path of actually improving human condition and human life, that’s a good process and we should encourage it, not discourage it.  That’s my only point.
 
                          END                 3:25 P.M. CEST


 

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