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CGI 2008 – Large, Elite Turn-Out Expected

By Tom Watson on September 24, 2008No Comment

Even as the American economic systems teeters on the edge of reinvention (to be optimistic), the big names are still coming to the Clinton Global Initiative in the hopes of changing the world for the better. As former President Clinton put in during a meeting with a small group of bloggers in his hotel suite Monday night: "The current economic crisis will make the work of putting
philanthropists and organizations together more significant over the
next couple of years.”

Yesterday’s Economist also captured the mood as CGI opens:

There were fears that this year’s CGI would be a disappointment
compared with the past three years, when companies, wealthy
individuals, governments and NGOs made big public commitments to take
world-saving action. For one thing, there was always a suspicion that
the CGI was a sort of training camp for a Hillary Clinton
administration: people and firms turned up to keep on the right side of
the next president of the most powerful nation on earth.

Now that President Clinton 2.0 is off the agenda for at least four
years, that reason has gone. Moreover, some of Mr Clinton’s actions in
support of his wife during the primary campaign annoyed Barack Obama’s
campaign, so there was a risk that the desire to cosy up to a potential
President Obama would cause people to stay away for the very reason
they once attended.

As it happens, the CGI expects an excellent turnout, including both
presidential candidates: John McCain in person and Mr Obama by
satellite. They will speak at either end of a session on energy, and
both are expected to make clear their commitment to fighting climate
change. As in past years, billionaires as well as companies ranging
from Cisco to Coca-Cola will pledge action. This year will feature a
particular focus on water supply and sanitation in the developing world.

And he he usually does, Social Edge blogger Dave Johnson caught some of the color as the boldface names descended on the Sheraton here on Seventh Avenue:

Yesterday I started by taking a subway down to Wall Street and the
NYSE building, hoping a few crumbs of the $700,000,000,000 bailout
request might fall off a truck or something.  Actually I was looking
for people jumping off of buildings, or maybe riots in the streets.
But things seemed calm — too calm — suspiciously calm — and I found
a nearby Starbucks to sit and get some work done.  Then I made my way
up to the Sheraton where they are holding the CGI.

At the Sheraton they had the CGI Exchange which was an Expo
of organizations showing what they do.  Instead of trade show booths
they each had table space.  The CGI "members" were walking around
learning about the organizations.  Lots of the faces were familiar.  If
the faces weren’t familiar many of the badge names were.  Michael
Douglas doesn’t look the same as in the movies.  Madeline Albright
walked by…

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