Bill Clinton reminds me of a washed-up, retired major league ballplayer who misses the spotlight and cheering crowds so much that he will do anything to remain relevant and in the public eye.
The former President, who has been out of power for almost a dozen years, has repeatedly put himself in front of cameras at various venues around the world. Clearly, he misses the trappings of fame, celebrity and power and refuses to gracefully retire into the shadows.
This week in New York something called the Clinton's Global Initiative (CGI) will convene to discuss the world’s myriad problems. As a former chief executive (and husband of the current Secretary of State), Clinton enjoys tremendous cache and pull; indeed, the CGI will attract an impressive array of foreign political leaders, business executives and (of course) Hollywood celebrities who are enamored with causes that raise (or maintain) their public profile.
Indeed, the guest list is glittering -- it includes Burmese human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi, former South African anti-apartheid activist archbishop Desmond Tutu; John Chambers, chairman of Cisco Systems; and even the sitting U.S. President Barack Obama.
The CGI was apparently scheduled this week to coincide with the United Nations assembly meetings in New York.
According to the CGI website, the various forums will discuss job creation; human rights violations; poverty; sustainable consumption; women’s rights; and environmental issues, among a multitude of others.
Thus, it’s rather a mishmash of every single problem the world faces (some of which are under great media scrutiny now, others less so).
The CGI also stated that it has “improved the lives of more than 300 million people in more than 180 countries” since the organization was founded seven years ago.
However, it’s unclear exactly how so many peoples’ lives have been “improved” by Bill Clinton’s various meetings and forums.
At the risk of sounding cynical, I find this whole exercise rather pointless -- more of an expression of Clinton’s ego and an opportunity for his famous and/or well-heeled friends to get more publicity and exposure.
That’s not to say that the subjects covered at the CGI forums are not worthy (quite the contrary, they pretty much define the state of the world’s problems now). But what is the real point of these meetings and forums? What can they really accomplish, aside from perhaps proposing some noble-sounding, but vague, solutions to incredibly complex global woes?
And is Bill Clinton really the right “voice” for these issues?
Clinton has reportedly earned tens of millions of dollars since his term in the White House ended by making public speeches all over the globe. (To be fair, George W. Bush has also made millions by demanding high fees for speeches since he departed the Oval Office).
The difference is that Bush had kept a relatively low profile since 2008, while Clinton seems to pop up frequently, seemingly addicted to TV cameras and making pronouncements on a wide variety of subjects (whether anyone asked him to or not).
Clinton doesn’t particularly strike me as being an “expert” on much of anything except how to win political elections.
A colleague of mine pointed out that since he was disbarred for perjury, Clinton cannot work at a law firm. Thus, the only thing he is “qualified” to do is be an ex-president, and apparently that carries a lot of weight with some people.
To go back to the baseball analogy, Clinton can no longer handle the fastball and no team wants to sign him, but he is determined to remain a player.