Episode 12, with guests Jake Siewert, Former White House Press Secretary and Daniel Cruise, Former Director of Public Affairs, National Security Council

Jake Siewert and Daniel Cruise are our interview guests this week
Show produced by Katherine Caperton
Original Air Date: May 28, 2011 on SiriusXM Satellite Radio “POTUS” Channel 124.  Click above to listen

One of the reasons we always looked forward to Summer in the White House was the prospect of foreign travel, especially Europe at around the time of the G-7 (then, when Russia joined, the G-8).  Given that Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy are members of this body, chances are good that the travel will include elements of a European tour.

My indelible memories of G-7s and G-8s past begin with the Reagan era, particularly the 1983 meeting that the U.S. hosted at Williamsburg, Virginia.  There are great pictures in the archives of President Reagan driving Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher around Colonial Williamsburg in golf carts, a great study in contrasts.

This is where I first taught myself the mechanics and protocol of “the class photo,” now a staple of summitry.   The 1983 “Class photo” was a classic for a certain generation of longstanding leaders with memorable names: From left to right: Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau of Canada, President Gaston Thorn of the European Commission, Chancellor Helmut Kohl of West Germany, President Francois Mitterrand of France, President Reagan, Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone of Japan, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom, and Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani of Italy.

During the Clinton years, the G-7 was often accompanied by a calamity far away that distracted the U.S. president and other leaders.  In Naples, Italy, in 1994, it was the collapse of the dollar and the death of the North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung.  In Lyon, France, in 1996, it was the bombing, attributed to al Qaeda, of the U.S. military housing complex at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.

So now comes President Obama’s 3rd G-8 Summit, this time at Deauville, France.  The President’s visit to France was preceded by stops in Ireland and the United Kingdom and followed by a stop in Warsaw Poland.  There were great shots in Ireland and England, and also a host of distractions back home.

Daniel Cruise

On this episode of Polioptics on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Adam and I talk to two experts — Jake Siewert and Daniel Cruise

Jake Siewert

— with years of experience at G-7s and G-8s and European political stagecraft in general, as well as the behind-the-scenes mechanics that go into holding (and having fun at) these summits year after year.  Jake, of course, was the last person to serve as White House Press Secretary under President ClintonDaniel was Director of Public Affairs at the National Security Council.  Jake now serves as Counselor to Secretary Tim Geithner at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  Daniel now serves as Vice President of Government and Public Affairs at Alcoa Company.

Jake and Daniel help us break down the European summitry, but also help us cast a broader view of the geopolitics at play and the larger domestic issues surrounding the summit, notably the devastating tornadoes that hit Joplin, Missouri just as the President left for Europe and the Middle Eastern diplomacy that played out at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the days before Air Force One left for Dublin.

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