Bill Clinton: CEO of the Global Problems Industry


Clinton_lg_1.jpgAfter a very long security sweep of the Sheraton Hotel & Towers conference space, I finally made my way in to get credentialed for the Clinton Global Initiative, opening this afternoon with a powerhouse panel chaired by the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton.
At the opening of this policy-star studded event, Clinton will host a powerhouse panel of the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama; Chile President Michelle Bachelet; Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Wal-Mart Stores President & CEO Mike Duke; and Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent.
The schedule lists Obama first — then Clinton, offering deference to the incumbent — but it also looks like Obama will actually participate in a panel format. I won’t fully believe that until I see it — but if Obama did sit up there with these other global leaders and CEOs, that would be a gesture of creative humility. Though it begs the next question of why corporate CEOs only? Could we not have had a major labor federation chief on stage, or an NGO that was also working hard to sculpt the world into a better place?
Coke. Wal-Mart. Obama.
I should stop nit-picking. It’s not President Obama’s conference. But a labor leader would have been good.
We have three hours yet — perhaps they’ll add someone?
Putting criticism of the veneer of things aside, I think Bill Clinton’s conference has become ground zero for much of the global problems industry. Key global private sector and public leaders struggling with global health, education, energy and climate change, female trafficking, economic empowerment, post-conflict social investment, and more and more are here — and I think President Clinton should be applauded for continuing to underscore the importance of issues that are vital but not always at the top of the news cycle or American consciousness.
If this annual Clinton issues gala didn’t exist — someone would have to invent it, but no one else would have the rolodex and draw. It’s impressive.
I’ll be covering the opening plenary which I’m eager for. Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is one of my favorite global leaders not only for his taste in RJ Williams boots but because he is a complex global strategist — one of the few I think who could rival Bill Clinton’s understanding of complex international affairs in both their economic and political/security dimensions.
For those interested in the Obama-Clinton-Rudd panel with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and the CEOs of Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola, a webcast will be available here after 4 pm EST.
More later.
— Steve Clemons


7 comments on “Bill Clinton: CEO of the Global Problems Industry

  1. ... says:

    david – nice post…thanks.. i agree that if and it is a big big ‘if’, obama did actually decide to make some ‘changes’ which he spoke about prior to his election, and i am talking real changes, then i would back down from my comment… as it stands he hasn’t… he has postured a certain way, but has not backed it up with action… until he does, these corporations and financial institutions are calling the shots with him being more of a chauffeur then a president..


  2. David says:

    “obama is small potatoes relatively speaking…”
    Yes, and no. Financial behemoths are just that, and they do consider themselves more important than the President of the United States, whom they expect to serve their interests first. That is why they called FDR everything but a decent human being and a legitimate leader of this political enterprise we call the USA.
    Buy position does also matter if the person holding that position knows how to make it work. As Madeline Allbright said, it does matter when the plane landing says United States of America. Question is always why it is landing wherever it has been sent, and who is aboard.
    I have been struck by how constricted a president’s actual power can be. GWB seemed to have power because he was on the same page as the powerbrokers. But FDR had actual power, stemming in very large measure from the fact that voters stood behind him and big capital was unable to have its way with either him or the United States, having just royally screwed everything up.
    This time around they have been able retain a great deal of control of the course of events in spite of the financial destruction they wrought, destruction out of which they profit enormously as the stock market regains value.
    But should Obama realize the power he can wield, if he will, and should the general population sense they once again actually have a champion in the White House, the apparent impotence could be reversed rather dramatically. People like Harry Reid will go where the power is. He is more ersatz Harry Truman than actual Harry Truman.
    I do not know if the general population has the capacity to extend sustained support for a president, any president, or to see government as anything but what Reagan so malinformedly called it, the problem.
    Steve is onto two critical issues: the absence of the voice of labor where it really matters and the lack of a sense of genuine urgency over the unemployment debacle. I see it every day here in central Florida, especially through the eyes of my very small number of tenants in a couple of units on our family homestead property and the eyes of other people I know in the trades, along with small business which should not be but are struggling and/or failing.
    I understand that the United States has a major obligation to the rest of the world for the economic debacle we essentially exported, and that that obligation is being met in consort with the major financial institutions, even though those folk actually deserve to be in stocks in the public square. But failure to give a major place at the table to labor and to address as a national crisis joblessness are failures of the first order.


  3. ... says:

    Coke. Wal-Mart. Obama.
    those calling the shots are in that order too… obama is small potatoes relatively speaking…
    steve any chance you will get around to the forced evacuation of those in east jerusalem? you mentioned you would some time ago and i still haven’t seen anything from you on it..


  4. Outraged American says:

    Sounds like POA has a gun & is going to use it. Hey, I interviewed a
    lot of people on Sibel, including her, or a reasonable facsimile.
    Giraldi, etc. Steve has his reasons. Let others take the lead.


  5. Quillen says:

    What you really mean Steve is that you are afraid of the Sibel Edmonds story because if you cover it the Washington insiders with whom you have such cozy relationships might be offended. I guess the allegations of corruption and something akin to treason don’t bother you because a lot of your friends are involved and you want to stay friends. Pathetic.


  6. Steve Clemons says:

    I have decided not to cover the Sibel Edmonds story as I have told you before my friend. Just not into it. Others are way ahead on the detail, and I don’t have time to drill down into the story. But I will not revisit it. I tried once and just am not into sorting through the volume of material that is out there — and some of which I don’t have confidence in.
    You are welcome to post what you will here. But I won’t be writing about Edmonds unless something in the dynamic of her story and its traction changes. Thus far, I don’t believe I have an onramp to the story — and am too busy with other stuff.
    Good luck to her though and to those pushing the story.
    Steve Clemons


  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “At the opening of this policy-star studded event, Clinton will host a powerhouse panel of the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama; Chile President Michelle Bachelet; Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Wal-Mart Stores President & CEO Mike Duke; and Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent”
    Steve, the Sibel Edmonds story ain’t goin’ away. In fact, it is rapidly becoming impossible to ignore, no matter how much you wish it was otherwise.
    All of Obama’s meetings should be put on hold in the face of Sibel’s accusations and testimony, and an immediate White House response should be aired to the American people. Short of that, it exposes the massive scale of corruption and lawlessness that is endemic in Washington DC.
    The time is rapidly approaching where you will have to decide whether you stand on the people’s side, or you stand with the criminals.


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