Summit Winners & Losers

One of the best parts of being a king, president, chancellor, or prime minister is you get to travel. A lot. First class. No hassles over reservations or finding the nearest ATM.

As a leader, you can cause traffic jams and airport delays, but never get caught up in one yourself. You simply get a motorcade led by 700 police (who otherwise might be preventing crime) to take you through the traffic jam you and your world leader buddies caused.

When it comes time to eat, the feed bag comes to you. You and select members of your party eat top-grade (pre-tasted) chow. Not only is there no bill but there is also no tipping. I don’t know for sure who foots most/all of the bill for all of this. But there’s a good chance you slept with that generous benefactor last night.

When it comes to parties Washington, like London and Paris and other capitals, is a version of Cinderella City. That is most of the residents who bear the burden in costs, gridlock, frustration, etc. don’t ever get invited. Or if they do, unless they are big political donors, they come and go via the tradesmen’s entrance.


Take next week.


We are hosting an important Nuclear Security Summit. While the VIPs are wined, dined and shuttled around, thousands of locals (and visitors) will find themselves behind barricades, gridlocked, blocked from their regular parking spaces or retrieving their vehicles from DC’s gotcha-impound lot.

So what do long-suffering Washington workers and residents, who aren’t on the VIP list, think of summits, demonstrations, marches, etc.

Here’s some feedback to yesterday’s column:

  • “Haven’t these people – world leaders – ever heard of Teleconferencing? The inconvenience and frustration forced on the people’ (that’s ‘the people’ as in Government of ‘the people’ by ‘the people’ and for ‘the people’) is prohibitively expensive in terms of security cost, and just plain stupid. Pick up the damn phone, turn on your video screen, and get off our streets. We got work to do.

    “So… Do you have a large following in Congress? Tell ’em. We don’t like spending millions on Security, and being denied the right to use our road system, which we paid for, so these people can have a meeting. Or so POTUS can travel the country selling his Health Plan… which most people don’t want and closing down miles of expressway so his party can get from the airport to downtown, but no one else can. We all have TV, radio, read the papers, and most of us have the internet. Sell your wares that way. We don’t shut down the e-way so Mr. Propeil can come to town and sell his Pocket Fishermen.” Dan of the IRS.

  • “As a long-lived State Department FS officer I can tell you that these summits, whether in Moscow or Berlin or Washington are largely ceremonial PR events. Virtually all of the ‘negotiations’ have taken place at a lower level before the world leaders find out about and then sign off on them. Perhaps this is one of the justified perks of the job for ‘world leaders’, I don’t know. However to sell most summits as working sessions where things are actually decided in real time is false advertising. That said, going to a summit without a pre-approved agenda can be a problem, as British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain found out the hard way.” Tony.
  • “For the last few decades I’ve been trudging to work in demonsrtations for and against war, social issues, marches for and against, etc. It goes with the turf, if you work in DC these things are to be expected. It’s the world capital. Having survived the Million Man March, and other huge turnouts, Monday and Tuesday’s Summit will be just another experience.” Tom

To reach me:

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