(General George Washington (played by Dean Malissa) and General Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de LaFayette (played by Benjamin Goldman), toast each other at the beginning of their dialogue Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007, during the entertainment in the East Room following a dinner in honor of President Nicolas Sarkozy at the White House. White House photo by Chris Greenberg)
I have been a bit negligent in my responsibilities as Director of the Le Cercle Lafayette here in Washington. This has been an extremely busy time in foreign affairs work, but still — the White House might have checked with me to see if I was available for the “social dinner” honoring French President Nicolas Sarkozy last night. Our group’s second meeting was actually a session with Sarkozy last year at Constitution Hall.
But who was there? Interestingly, not a single Senator from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee attended — not Hagel, not Lugar, not Biden or Dodd, not Kerry, or. . .well, you get the point.
Ross Perot was there. One wonders if that was part of Bush’s efforts to show independence from dad who is not found of his third party nemesis.
But also there was Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands — and not a big advocate of Israeli/Palestinian settlement as best I can tell. My friend Ken Weinstein who heads the Hudson Institute made the cut — probably because he and I haven’t cosponsored that many programs together this year.
I know that Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Henry Kissinger, and James Baker are all traveling — but would be interesting to know if they were invited, or even queried about.
Fedex’s Fred Smith, a friend of Al Gore’s and John McCain’s, got in the door, but so did former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson — who not only served as a member of the Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group but has also been working hard to get his Republican Party to take a more enlightened stand on gay issues.
Others who should have been invited were State Department top lawyer John Bellinger who has been working hard on the international law front — though Philippe Sands and Scott Horton took him to task in recent days.
We know that Bob Gates was in China and couldn’t attend — but DoD Deputy Gordon England should have been there. And I would have invited John Negroponte and Nick Burns who are working most of the issues in the Middle East and need to coordinate with the French, particularly with former French Ambassador to the US and now Diplomatic Advisor to the President Jean-David Levitte (who asked me to head Le Cercle Lafayette and is one the best diplomats on the global scene today).
And where was World Bank President Bob Zoellick? Zoellick is doing a very solid job restoring World Bank morale and purpose — and doing so in partnership with French interests. And recently minted International Monetary Fund President Dominique Strauss-Kahn was also absent.
For a more fun dinner, I would have invited the leadership of Brookings, Carnegie, CSIS, Heritage, Cato, AEI, the Institute for International Economics, and the New America Foundation. That’s respectively Strobe Talbott (but he’s been to a ton of these dinners), Jessica Tuchman Mathews, John Hamre, Ed Feulner, Ed Crane, Chris DeMuth, C. Fred Bergston, and Steve Coll. But maybe they’ll make the cut in the next administration.
And while lots of corporate people were there — not a single labor representative. And this was a dinner for the French(?).
— Steve Clemons