A US-Australia (UK) DC Day


keatings twn.jpg
(post-2007 Australian American Leadership Dialogue Dinner: Anne Keating, Anne Wexler, Steve Clemons, Lesley Russell, Bruce Wolpe, Former Prime Minister Paul Keating; photo credit: Ambassador Joe Duffey)
A number of readers have been asking me how a typical day of mine in blogland and the the world of think tanks goes in Washington.
The most difficult challenge I have in my schedule is just getting time to “think.” The DC political scene is very time-consuming, wrapped up in meetings that I’m attending or hosting. There’s so much that I read each day or run across that I want to blog about — so I’m constantly scribbling, building a huge file of envelopes, napkins, the backs of flyers that I write on and then stuff in a folder hoping to one day get to in a future essay or blog post.
But over the next few days, I’m participating in the Australian American Leadership Dialogue — which corrals a powerhouse group of Australian political and business leaders with an equally high end crowd of Americans. An Australian political bridge-builder named Phil Scanlan on the Australian side and Anne Wexler and former USIA chief Joe Duffey among others helped launch this annual meeting 16 years ago — and I feel fortunate to be part of it.

We start out this morning with a meeting in the White House with Vice President Cheney. One of my colleagues in the meeting plans to ‘try and ask’ about Iran and whether the VP is egging on an Israeli bombing run. All of our meetings are off the record so I’m not sure I’ll be able to report back on Cheney’s answer.
But as far as pre-Cheney stuff goes, at 5:30 am, I went for a short run — now (at about 6:30 am) I’m blogging a bit, finishing up something I’ll post later on VP selection gossip. Then I head to the White House for the Cheney meeting. Then after that, political pollster Charlie Cook of National Journal’s Cook Political Report will handicap the upcoming political race for our group — and while I will be listening, I’ll be sending out emails quietly to friends who are invited to attend a session I’m having tomorrow with former YES Network CEO Leo Hindery who also served as John Edwards’ senior economic policy adviser on the campaign. Hindery will be speaking along with finance expert Tom Gallagher of the ISI Group and me on the impact of high energy prices and collapsing home values on the American middle class. Hindery will also be talking about his concern about growing dependencies on sovereign wealth funds.
But back to Australia-US stuff. Wait. . .not yet, I have to skip out of the conference for 90 minutes to attend a lunch hosted by British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald for the blog-respecting head of communications at the Embassy, Dominic Martin. Martin is about to become the UK’s next Ambassador to the OECD, and he’s the guy who convinced Foreign Minister and blogger David Miliband to come speak recently at a joint event of the New America Foundation and British Council — launching a new transatlantic young leaders group called TN2020.
Then back to Australia-US chat. One of Brent Scowcroft’s right hand people, Kevin Nealer, will talk about China and the Asia Pacific economy (and I’ll probably still be emailing for the Leo Hindery/Tom Gallagher meeting). Then I have to sneak out and finish writing an article for a Japanese newspaper — shouldn’t take long.
Tonight, we are having a pretty fancied up dinner at the State Department in the Benjamin Franklin Room — and I’ll take a call from Deborah Cameron, the host of one of Sydney’s most listened to radio talk shows (702 ABC Sydney) to talk about American politics — something I do every Tuesday night (DC time — Wednesday morning Aussie time).
Then, I’ll go home and read, write, check in with everything on the home front. Then I’ll check in to see how the battles are going in TWN‘s comment files. There are some doozies there some time, but I tend to intervene only when the discourse finally gets as bad as what I hear in back rooms between some Members of Congress and their operatives.
Lots going on. This is a bit loaded for a normal day — but it may give folks of some idea of the pace of things. And while most folks outside DC might wonder why I’m not breaking out in hives going to hear Vice President Cheney speak to us this morning — the bottom line in DC is engaging all sides of the political and policy arena. I’m interested in what the Vice President has to say and how he is posturing on some of the big challenges ahead. In this town, it makes no sense to cut off communication with anyone. Listening, meeting, debating, and even attacking depends on knowing what all sides are up to.
More later.
— Steve Clemons


7 comments on “A US-Australia (UK) DC Day

  1. Kathleen says:

    Note to Anne & Joe: No world conference on the environment would be complete without the participation of the world’s indigenous peoples. If you havent’ already, you should invite the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to particpate in your future conferences.


  2. Kathleen says:

    Good to read about my two oldest political freinds, Anne Wexler and Joe Duffey. Under President Carter, Anne was Ass’t Secretary of Commerce and Chairman of the New China Trade Commission. Joe was Asst’ Secretary of State for Humanitarian Affairs and Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanites.
    We all met working for Gene McCarthy for President in Connecticut in 1968. We all ended up going to Chicago as delegates. I was the person who asked Joe Duffey to run for US Senate in 1968. He did in 1970. Bill and Hillary were at Yale Law School and were volunteers on Joe’s campaign. I did his position papers. Funny, looking back on things.


  3. steve davis says:

    one of the elements of your blog i enjoy is the human touch. the pictures of the dogs, the house,
    the meetings you attend and the people with whom you dine and discuss the ideas you share with us. i find it amazing you have time to write this blog, but daily i am pleased to read and learn and think about the issues of which you write.
    thank you,
    steve davis


  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Someone needs to grab that piece of shit by the balls and demand some answers. Why not me?


  5. Paul Norheim says:

    Well Steve — it`s not always easy to joke on a blog, when two
    persons neither know nor see each other while joking… So I did
    not succeed.
    What I actually tried too say, was that I guess it was wise of you
    not to tell us about that meeting with the VP in advance (it
    would have created a lot of noise at TWN).
    I could also vividly imagine that any honest questions from POA,
    delivered in his language and style, would have created quite an
    embarrassing situation for yourself and the other guests at the
    White House – not to mention the VP. I just thought about the
    comical aspects…
    However, I was more serious when I said that I hoped you could
    tell us readers something between the lines, if you`ve got some
    fresh impressions regarding Israel/USA/Iran. But that is of
    course up to you and your judgement.
    In any case, I hope you ll`get some days off during this


  6. Steve Clemons says:

    Paul — Much to write about today, but need to figure out what is
    But on Cheney meeting, I only really learned I would see him and
    be involved in this meeting last night — so didn’t have weeks of
    advance notice to provide. Just the way it is.
    Great note though — and thanks for the support.
    Much more later — at the AALD conference now, and it’s really
    good — so sad I can’t write much about the substance of the
    best, steve


  7. Paul Norheim says:

    Steve Clemons,
    You obviously did not consider announcing to your dear readers
    and commentators a couple of weeks in advance that you were
    seeing Cheney this morning? Or asking on of the regular
    commentators, let`s say POA, to give you three questions for
    the Vice President?
    I can imagine how that announcement thread would have
    developed, and especially how the meeting with the VP would
    have developed if you had considered that option…
    “There’s so much that I read each day or run across that I want
    to blog about — so I’m constantly scribbling, building a huge
    file of envelopes, napkins, the backs of flyers that I write on and
    then stuff in a folder hoping to one day get to in a future essay
    or blog post.”
    Glad to see that you have the energy, and that TWN obviously
    still is a big priority in your schedule.
    Also glad to see that someone in your group will “try to” ask the
    VP about Israel-Iran. I would at least hope that you can give
    some information between the lines on one of your future
    articles here…


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