Yesterday evening, I had the chance to spend a few minutes with Laurence O’Donnell on MSNBC’s The Last Word discussing Libya, Bill O’Reilly, and the foreign policy bandwidth challenges facing President Obama’s national security team.
After this show which I participated in from San Francisco, I attend the CURE fundraiser for epilepsy research at which former White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod was the keynote speaker.
(He was excellent by the way — some of the investment funds who are hiring Axelrod to come and speak to their board meetings and client retreats should allow him to speak beyond the insider-ish Obama political stuff but about his and his wife’s encounter with epilepsy. Axelrod was amazing and had the packed Four Seasons ballroom near tears when he told the story of the two greatest heroes in his life — his wife and daughter who is plagued by epilepsy. Incredible and important personal story.)
In any case, I chatted with a number of folks at this event about Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iran, the Israel/Palestine standoff and its relevance, the Muslim Brotherhood, youth movements, the price of wheat, Morocco, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia. We chatted about the really difficult choices that Barack Obama and his team faced — and I found this San Francisco crowd deeply interested in US foreign policy and the tension in the world today. I was able to connect with not just David Axelrod and Gavin Newsom on these foreign policy issues but really dozens of others who were super interested. Thanks to both of these guys for letting me talk their ear off — but thanks also to the folks I met just last night who are doctors, and bankers, and internet gurus, or financial analysts — or just great volunteers trying to help gain some ground on epilepsy — all of whom wanted to talk about the Middle East and Japan.
This kind of general interest in foreign policy chatter has never happened to me at a function on the west coast of the United States — or really outside the Northeast Corridor — unless it was a foreign policy group meeting. I hope this interest around the nation holds.
— Steve Clemons