Discussing Haiti with President Clinton

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We don’t normally allow anything to interfere with our board meeting.  But the 1st day of our meeting in New York took place on the same day President Clinton asked me to participate on a Haiti panel during the Clinton Global Initiative annual conference across town.  The timing worked out for me to squeeze in the panel which you can watch by clicking on the following link: http://www.livestream.com/cgi_plenary/video?clipId=pla_48410238-f7f0-406b-9339-c85e3b4364eb .

I would like to express my appreciation for the consistent support President Clinton has demonstrated towards Royal Caribbean and to me personally for our involvement in Haiti, both before and after the earthquake.

Maryse Kedar, President of our Haitian subsidiary, was also on the panel on behalf of NGOs active in Haiti.  She is one of the most remarkable people I have known in my career, a real treasure for us and for her country.

One way or another, Haiti must find funding to activate the Citadelle master site plan, but it isn’t happening.  Thank goodness the school we are building at Labadee is on our property and with our money so nothing can get in its way.  It will open next month but the Citadelle situation is frustrating.

Moving backwards in time, the week before the board meeting I was in Washington DC for visits with a variety of people inside the beltway.  With the election looming, most of the talk was about whether the Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives.  I will not prognosticate about that, but I will offer two observations about Washington based upon visiting several times each year on top of the fact that my concentration in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton was in Government of a Democracy:

— First, from the perspective of someone who works 1,000 miles away, it’s comical to observe how obsessed people inside the beltway are with life inside the beltway.  Some of them must believe that life goes on because of them, while most of the rest of us believe that life goes on in spite of them.

— Second, the trend towards partisanship, especially in Congress, is not just a function of people having stronger opinions these days.  A fraying of the social fibers that used to hold the political community together regardless of party affiliation exacerbates it.  Elected officials feel much more pressure to be in their home districts these days, and often confine their time on Capitol Hill to the minimum hours possible.  Their families used to move to Washington when they were elected but now the families remain in the home districts and some Congressmen live in their offices during the week.  I can see the Congressmen from South Florida just by taking the early Tuesday flight from Miami to Washington or the Thursday afternoon flight back.  The result is that elected officials of the rival parties literally don’t know each other.  A close personal friend who is a Congressman says the people who work out together in the House gym in the morning never attack each other personally because they know each other as (sweating) people.