Former Congressman Thomas J. Downey (Democratic Party) and Former Congressman Lou Frey, JR. (Republican)
On: America After The Mid-Term Elections?
14 November 2006
Geoffrey Clifton Brown, MP: “We are very lucky to have both Lou Frey and Tom Downey here. Lou was Chairman and is now on the Executive Committee of the Association of Former Members of Congress. We are also delighted to have Tom Downey here. And one of course is a Democrat and one is a Republican.”
Lou Frey: “We got wiped out! We got what we deserved as Republicans. We ran a bad race. We had the war hanging over us and you look at every poll, and in every district and that was the biggest issue. I don’t mean about not going there. But about how it’s been handled afterwards. That, combined with the corruption issue – the climate of corruption that the Democrats hung on us. That said, it is true that we had a number of Republican congressmen get in trouble – young congressman in my part of the state. Mark Foley sent inappropriate e-mails, so he should have been thrown out, and he was, immediately. That just all added to it. And it was clear the tsunami was coming. I mean this wasn’t any great surprise, like the ‘94 elections were. We knew it was coming and I remember when I was in the leadership and we had something called …Watergate. I was running for office in Florida, and people would say ‘Nixon’ to which I would say ‘I’m sorry, who?’ ‘Nixon, Who?’ Do you think I had an ad of Nixon in my campaign stuff? No Way! And that’s the sort of thing that happened in the States. President Bush was featured on very few Republican ads or pamphlets. Ronald Reagan was featured, though; everybody had a picture of Ronald Reagan as a Republican. And in our country since the civil war, 1866, every nine point three (9.3) years one party gets swept in, and the other gets swept out. And of course, the 6th year of a presidential term is just disastrous. Time after time the party in power has gotten beaten. And there are a lot of people making excuses; for instance, there’s a lot of people saying ‘well without Jimmy Carter we wouldn’t have had Ronald Reagan, you know so this is really ok’ or ‘the Republicans didn’t lose it; the Democrats didn’t win it’. But the Republicans lost it. I played ball, and I’m in politics, and when you look at the end of it, you either won or you lost. And we lost. And it doesn’t mean the whole world is over. It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to be able to do things in the Congress. And it may possibly mean that this country is so divided, that like the Grand Alliance we may have to work together to get anything done.
Many of the Democrats, who won, won in Republican districts. And they won by running as Republicans! They were against abortion; they were against stem-cell research; they were for fiscal responsibility. And they won! They have joined a group called the Blue Dog Democrats. The self styled Blue Dog Democrats. They used to be called Southern Democrats but there aren’t many Southern Democrats left. There were about fifteen of them in the house before this election. They’ve doubled their numbers. Its a great deal. Tom was only 25 when he got elected. He was a Watergate baby. And when he came in – was it in 1970…”
Tom Downey: “‘75.”
Lou Frey: “…..And when ‘75 came in, they made a dramatic change in the congress and the way it worked and so forth. But even when he was there, we had three parties. We had the Republican party which is now more conservative than it was because we have lost every moderate. Throughout the Northeast and Midwest, they’re gone. The Democrats are there. And basically the majority of the people in the Democratic Party tend to be on the liberal side of the ticket. But if you deduct from that number the Blue Dog Democrats, they actually control the balance of power in the house, as the Southern Democrats did. Hopefully Tom will talk a little about this and how its going to work, because the challenge for the Democrats is going to be to keep that coalition, the Democrat Coalition together. And the challenge for the Republicans is going to be to get legislation that is attractive enough that it can attract some of the Blue Dog Democrats in order to get the majority and that’s going to be an interesting process to see how that works or how that doesn’t work.
Just a couple quick notes on the election: we were doing very well with the Hispanic vote; we had 45% of it a few years ago, we took 29% of it this time. We went way down in the Hispanic vote. There is always a gender gap – there’s a gender gap in my house, I’ve got four daughters! And the Republicans don’t do well usually with the female vote – and we managed to do that again. Among married women, Republicans did very well, among unmarried women they got slaughtered. 2-1 voted Democrat. Nobody has figured out why that is. We lost basically in every age, every economic one, and in every religious one I think except Protestant. Is that right Phil?”
Professor Philip Davies (Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library): “Certainly, only Protestants voted Republican.”
Lou Frey: “We won, 55%-45%. We got wiped out across the board. Now the Congress is close, as you know, in the Senate. Unless you have 60 votes you can’t do much anyway, so the Senate is awash. Democrats do have the ability to control all the chairmanships and they have the ability to control the agenda, which will be important. The House is totally different. If you are one vote up in the House, you control everything. And so the Democrats have every committee chairman, every subcommittee chairman; they control the agenda; they control who you can subpoena – and there’ll be a lot of those floating around – and its up now to the Democrats to not just be ‘against’, because they ran a wonderful campaign. Up until now, they weren’t for anything, they were just against. And we weren’t smart enough to be able to figure out what to do about that. And now however, in football or rugby terms, they’ve got the ball, and they’ve got to run with the ball and the pressure is on them to deliver. And who knows what’s going to happen? We can talk about the presidential race and other issues after. Maybe that just gives you a quick view from the Republican standpoint.
I have been here before. We have survived. We are not in extremis. We’ve lost but we’re still alive and viable and its going to be an interesting two years.”
Geoffrey Clifton Brown MP: “Thank you very much for that inspired summary of what’s happened. You’ve thrown down the gauntlet not only to the Democrats but to the Democrats in the form of Tom Downey.”
Tom Downey: “Thank you. Not listed on my biography is the fact that over the last ten years I have gotten the chance to play Republicans in debate preparation for the Vice-President. I was Jack Kemp, Bill Bradley and George Bush successively. So if I lapse into Bush-speak at some point, understand that it is mostly by training, as opposed to inclination! For the last 13 years I’ve served as a lobbyist – government consulting work. So I have had the good fortune of being very close to the people that have been elected. Indeed when I was elected to congress and in the years that I served, Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer, and Chuck Schumer and George Miller, and Dick Durbin all used to come to my home every Tuesday for dinner. And one thing that I would point out that hasn’t been commented on very much by the press is that the leadership of the House of Representatives and the leadership in the Senate, have something very fundamentally in common, that has not been mentioned, they all served in the House together. They are all personal friends. They know each other both socially and professionally.
I think that for the first time in a very long time, you will see a level of cooperation between the House and the Senate in terms of how they coordinate hearings with the administration and how they plan their agendas. That will be very different. What is also different is that the members of the Democratic party can no longer luxuriate as they did in the past with their majority. They don’t have a very big one in the House and they have an infinitesimal one in the Senate. In the years that Democrats were in the majority, they realized that elections come and go but at least in the House, even if you lost 20-30 seats we’d still be in the majority.
Well these have been twelve unpleasant years for the members of the House of Representatives who are Democrats because of the discipline – the iron discipline – of the Republicans. Their ability not only to command majorities but have a very clear-eyed view of what they wanted to do left most Democrats just sputtering and angry and completely ineffective. So that chastening period is still very fresh in the minds of the very liberal members. You hear these scare talked about, the ones who are going to take over the various committees. One Congressman selected from Hostetler who lost, he said “Barney Frank has a homosexual, radical homosexual agenda for the banking committee.” Barney said that was news to him! That he had such an agenda! And in fact the Democrats that are there are likely to be very cognizant of the fact that there are divisions, social divisions, between Democrats. The Democratic party has always been a pretty ‘big tent’ party that tolerated people that differed with the majority of Democrats on for instance reproductive rights or on gun control.
Those are still divisive matters to be sure. But expect this Democratic majority to focus very clearly, early and quickly on serious accomplishments around which they all campaigned.
That includes Jon Tester, the freshman Democrat from Montana. We’ve seen pictures of him weighing in at 300 lbs the only Senator capable of greasing a combine, and shooting a shotgun, and shooting down multiple birds at once. And he’s very proud of the fact that he’s a conservative Democrat. But Jon Tester along with liberal Democrats campaigned on ethics reform. He campaigned on the need to raise the minimum wage. He campaigned on a new direction. Whatever that means we’ll find out. On Iraq, ethics reform, minimum wage, even climate change issues, these are ones which both the House members and the Senators broadly agree on. And they will gain, is my guess, some momentum for their efforts in the early days of the Congress.
Now I substantially agree with the fact that, as Lou mentioned, the Republicans blew it. They did. But it was twelve years in the making. And it wasn’t just because of what they did or did not do.
This was a national election. You remember what my friend Tip O’Neill used to say about Congressional elections that “All politics is local.” Well in fact this election thank goodness they weren’t. They were national elections. Primarily the electorate when asked at polling locations in post election surveys said that they were concerned about corruption; they were concerned about the economy; the war on terror, and Iraq – in that particular order. And you’ve seen if you’ve read the newspapers recently that the Democratic Senators Carl Levin and Harry Reid said that they can encourage the President for a phased withdrawal of US forces from Iraq very shortly.
It will be fascinating to see if the Iraqi Study group comes up with the suggestion that American forces need to be increased to further stabilize Iraq before they could be withdrawn. That is likely to be very much a non-starter in either the House or the Senate. Now I don’t know how either of the chambers could stop the president from doing that if he wanted to, initially. But all of the current hearts and flowers about bipartisanship will come a cropper right away if there is some serious division over Iraq.
Now let me say one thing about Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Reid – and President Bush. They are unlikely dance partners to say the least but they have a common interest. The President has, in trying to make sure that the final two years of his presidency are not as catastrophic as the first six have been. What he is likely to want to do is to find a couple of areas around which he and the Democrats can agree. Those will probably be in domestic affairs, mainly the aforementioned minimum wage increase, potentially something on climate change, potentially something on Immigration. Ironically the Democrats in the House and Senate are closer with the President on the issues of immigration. Democrats don’t believe that a 700 mile fence for a 2,200 mile border is a particularly good idea, or likely to work. And yet they do feel that there needs to be some path for the 11-12 million illegal immigrants in the United States to citizenship that makes sense for them and for the economy of our country.
My guess is that we are going to see at least three to six months of a serious attempt to try and govern. Because Mrs. Pelosi knows, and Mr. Reid knows that, if they want to maintain their majority, they have to be seen as cooperating as well as sending a very clear message that the direction should change in Iraq. That, in their minds, is what this election is all about. It should be very interesting.
I know that there are many people in this room who are probably very cynical about the idea that Democrats and Republicans can actually sit down to a table and agree on anything. I really feel – and I’ve been in these councils as recently as Tuesday and Wednesday – that the Democrats at least are excited by their majority but respectful of how difficult it is going to be to keep it. And I thought you saw in President Bush a fairly chastened press conference that he was prepared after six years of happily governing Republicans in the House and Senate to recognize that he had a new reality. We will probably have without a whole lot of difficulty a new secretary of defence, and a new opportunity to make some changes in our position in Iraq. And I think all of that is for the good. So I’m cautiously optimistic that the next couple of months will be among the more productive in American History, politically.”
Geoffrey Clifton Brown, MP: “Thank you very much. I’m going to use my position as Chairman to ask the first question. I’m going to tempt our two Speakers to go a little bit further than they have at the moment, and see where we go in the run up to the next presidential elections. How might that pan out? Who might be the candidates? And I just wonder whether the vice-presidential candidate for the Democrats might be more important than the one for the Republicans? Let’s see where we go. I’m going to first ask Lou.”
Lou Frey: “Is this straight gin?”
Geoffrey Clifton Brown, MP: “Well we’ve got a bit of water there for you as well!”
Lou Frey: “Let me first respond to the vice-presidency question. In my lifetime in reading about it, there was only one vice-president that I thought ever made a difference, and that was Lyndon Johnson for John Kennedy. Most of the time a vice-president’s job is to not get indicted! Not say too much that’s dumb and to maybe deliver his state or his niche. But in this case there is the possibility that maybe a Senator Obama or somebody like that really might make a difference. I want to tell you right now so that you can relax, the Republicans are not going to nominate anybody in ‘08. We’ve decided that we’re just going to let it go to Hillary Clinton.
Candidates: We have 2 ½ candidates left! We’ve managed to eliminate some people along the line. Senator Allen lost Virginia, and that was impossible to do, but he managed to do it. We think that Kerry was advising him and Bill in his presidential race, Bill First didn’t do much of a job in running the Senate, or at least as much as some of us had hoped, I think he’s taken himself out of the race although he’s still running. Condoleezza Rice, I think, mentioned that, with all the problem, the country is ‘Bushed’ out. I think it would be difficult for her to run in ‘08. There are obvious reasons – well I say ‘obvious’ – reasons. Mitt Romney former Governor of Massachusetts who is head of the Olympic committee is still alive. In our country only three Senators, the last 100 years, got from the Senate to the White House. It is very difficult, because you have a record. I mean, Tom and I have had thousands of votes people can scrutinise. You can pull these things up and you look bad. At least, if you are a Governor, you really don’t vote for much, and you can hide a lot of the stuff. So Mitt Romney I think is there. Of course John McCain is probably the leading Republican right now. John in ‘73 was in prison with my room-mate in Vietnam. Well he was only there for five years, no, really seven and a half. And I’ve known John for a long time.
But what we’re going to be looking at is who can beat Hillary? I think that is going to be one of the driving forces of the Republican party because I think, personally, despite the negatives, she’s going to be the nominee. She was on a committee during the Watergate where I first met her, and I think she is a formidable candidate. She has raised a ton of money and my guess is that from the Republican standpoint that is where we’ll start. Now she may not get it, and other things can happen. But right now, people are looking at McCain, and basically because of the fact that they think he can, he can win.
The other thing we didn’t mention, the Governors races split. We have 50 Governors, we used to have 28; we now have 22. Democrats have 28, and if they win those states that they have Governors in – and you know we have an electoral system that is state by state – they would get about 330 electoral votes. Even the hanging chads in Florida would not stop that election. So the race is on; its been on for a while but now it’s really intensifying. I think Tom said the next three or four months are crucial to get something done? He’s absolutely right, because it is always difficult to get things done in an election year, but when it is an election year in a presidential election year, you just want to go write off the second year of the term. So that is the time you can tell if Hillary is going to make it or not.”
Tom Downey: “Let me say one thing about this coordination between the House and the Senate: I think there’s a sense among Democrats that the next couple of months can lay the basis for a Democratic Presidential candidate if they do a good enough job in dealing with the mistakes that were made by the administration on war, on Hurricane Katrina, and on the other misadventures in foreign policy. So expect Republicans to do a lot of explaining before congressional committees that are quite well prepared for them and coordinated.
Now as for who the Democrats will nominate: I’d rather talk about the Republicans, which would be easier. So let me talk about the Republicans first. I think its John McCain, and the reason for that is that he is so broadly acceptable to independents that have deserted the Republican party in droves in this last election. And if the Republicans are serious about holding onto power, and I think they certainly would like to, McCain I think gives them the best opportunity to do that, and there is a paucity of other Republican candidates. Historically, Americans like Governors, even if it is of a small state, like Arkansas, as a real job, as opposed to the Senate and the House, which they do consider real jobs but not the sort of preparatory work necessary to be an executive at the national level. But I’m afraid for the public this time they’re likely to get either Senators or former Senators, or a former house member who is now a Governor.
Now let me deal with the Democrats. Mrs. Clinton is the frontrunner in most of the polls, with the exception of the first poll, which was done several months ago, in Iowa, where former Senator John Edwards leads her, and the former Governor of the State of Iowa, Tom Vilsack, the currently only announced candidate for President. Expect that Vilsack, Richardson the current Governor of New Mexico, former House member, former Ambassador to the United Nations, former Secretary of Energy to be a very serious candidate. Bill has a unique place in the Guinness Book of World Records: he has shaken more hands in a twenty-four hour period than any other human being. This is frankly something to note, because he has a lot of stamina, and he’s a terrific campaigner. He’s also pretty smart, and he is Hispanic, so he will be a serious candidate. John Kerry will also be a candidate, I don’t think that candidacy is likely to go anywhere. The latest gaffe of his notwithstanding, I think people felt that you get one shot at this opportunity to be the party’s nominee and that’s it, although I wouldn’t say that if Vice-President Gore decided to get into the race. He shows every sign of not wanting to do that. Senator Dodd is the Senior Senator from Connecticut, speaks Spanish fluently, from his years in the Peace Corps. in the Dominican Republic and is a very engaging speaker, a lot of fun. We could have a fun President – that would be unique! We’ve had a fun President. Actually it wasn’t for me. But (pauses) …Barack Obama who is something of political phenomena in the United States, the author of two critically acclaimed books Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope, about which he is currently speaking around the country. He has a unique background, the son of a Kenyan economist and woman from Kansas, raised by his white grandparents in Hawaii. Amazingly articulate, and with compelling personal stories, there is a question of whether someone who has only two years in the Senate is ready to be President or whether the country is ready to be viewing him as President. It is a serious question though, as others have said, the last things you want to be is in the Senate for a long time and, as Lou suggested, build up a long record that you have to defend. But in the age of Terrorism, if you assume that the Republicans are going to be making a lot about that, which with his credentials certainly Senator McCain would want to do, it would seem to me that you would want to counter that with some experience in foreign policy. But if I had to guess, Mrs. Clinton is my personal friend, as well as the junior Senator from my state, so these recordings if I can start whispering instead of talking loudly,
…as regards Senator Edwards: he has done it before. There is an enormous advantage to having been through this bizarre process of campaigning for the American Presidency. Senator Edwards is the warmest, most natural, most compelling candidate that our party has, either in person, or on television; he has positioned himself brilliantly in the last four years moving back to North Carolina, spending a lot of time travelling around, making very clear pronouncements about where he stands on issues, decidedly to the left of Senator Clinton, which will be very attractive to the people who actually vote in primaries. Remember the first primary in 2004, the caucuses of Iowa. I think John Kerry would admit that if the caucus had lasted another week, John Edwards would have been the nominee of the Democratic Party. He hasn’t missed a step in that state and the Democratic party has changed its rules with respect to how we elect our candidates. So instead of going from Iowa to New Hampshire, you go from Iowa to Nevada. Nevada is a very heavily unionized state for Democrats where the hotels and restaurant workers and their minions command a great deal of respect, power and authority. And then you go to New Hampshire, where there is a primary, and then four days later to South Carolina, the Senators birthplace.”
Geoffrey Clifton Brown, MP: “That was absolutely fascinating, you heard it here first! I wonder if there is a joker in the pack, a Ross Perot, an Independent? The floor is now yours (referring to the audience):”
Michael Shrimpton E-AG member, Barrister, National Security Lawyer: “I think we are in complete agreement that you could not build a 700 mile fence for a 2,200 mile border. Clearly we need a 2,200 mile fence. If we really want to solve the problem, lets try an idea that used to be tried in Vietnam, have a free fire zone for the farmers, on privately held land, 5 miles inside the border, that will solve the problem. That will solve the problem, no worries!
We know that President Bush was not just chastened last week, but humiliated. He wasn’t just humiliated by the electorate; he was humiliated with respect by his father. It is well known that the choice for Secretary of Defence was imposed on him by his father. And that humiliation of a proud man has made it too much to bear. And there were certainly rumours spreading in London that President Bush may be about to resign, and that would mean of course, President Cheney. And indeed the rumour has even reached London that the Chief Justice has been asked to stand by and hold himself available. And there are lists circulating of a possible Cheney cabinet…”
Lou Frey: “You know, this is really interesting. Cheney worked for me, and I know Rumsfeldt; I know President Bush Snr, and I don’t know the son as well, but I do know him pretty well, and I will take any amount of money you have on a bet that he ain’t gonna resign. There’s no way in the world. He’s from Texas, you know. He isn’t going to resign. And I don’t know where people got the idea that – well that’s not quite true. I was teaching the other day and someone said that we’ve never been to the moon and it was a conspiracy! I don’t know what people do. They must either drink or smoke a lot of funny stuff. – So there’s no way he’s going to resign. You talk about being humiliated, I don’t agree. He lost, he made some bad decisions. He should have replaced Rumsfeld, if he had replaced Rumsfeld three months before the election we’d have kept the Senate. I have no idea why he didn’t do it, and why he did it the day after. I just don’t understand it. It’s one of the biggest mysteries of the campaign. But he isn’t going to resign. And he is going to be fighting for what he believes in.
If you look back at American Presidencies, and Eisenhower, who obviously was different in a lot of ways, he got wiped out in ‘54; he was a big Republican supporter at the time, involved in the House and the Senate, and he looked at it and he said ‘No more. I’m not going to get involved in this stuff and I’m going to go work with the Democrats and we’re going to get legislation through’. And he did; he flipped from a partisan president, which he was for the first two years, to basically a person who worked with the other side. Now when Bush was in Texas, he had a lieutenant governor who was a good friend – a Democrat – but he did work with the legislature there. And I think he’s got the ability, the mental capacity, and the drive, to be able to do that, if he thinks that he can put together something that’s left of his presidency. Like anybody, we all have egos in this business. If we wouldn’t, you’d get run over. He would like to leave a legacy better than the one that he has now.
And Dick Cheney, who I know, and Tom knows, – Tom spent time debating him over a period of years -, you can like him or dislike him. I happen to like him. He is a very bright, tough guy. I’ve dealt with him for years, and he is very honest, and I think very capable. I know he’s the symbol about everything that’s wrong in the country, I don’t think that’s fair, but that’s this business; nobody knows what really goes on. I think of all the people in the President’s cabinet over a number of years, if he had to listen to one person I think it would be Cheney, Cheney has his trust in that. And you know, again if anybody wants to put money on it, come on up and see me after I’ll take y’all, alright? Put me down as undecided.”
Tom Downey: “I think that there’s a better chance of my pitching opening day at Yankee stadium than that happening. And I can’t pitch. I agree completely with Lou there’s no possible chance that President Bush would resign, because he has two years left in his term – a lot can happen, his legacy can change, so we could be attacked again, so there are just limitless opportunities. And I think as Lou has mentioned, this is an enormously proud man who is never going to surrender power easily or gracefully.”
Thomas Conlon, Director, American Citizens Abroad: “John Bolton, I think, will be a very big test of cooperation. The other thing that comes to mind is that when President was elected to the White House he had 16 federal judgeships which were up for, or in limbo. Right now, there are 16 more federal judgeships up for review. The Republicans block the Democrats and the Democrats block the Republicans. Is the spirit of cooperation going to promote any of these? Or is that all going to be left for the next administration?”
Tom Downey: “With respect to Ambassador Bolton, he will not be confirmed by the senate. And the issue is whether or not they want to make him the deputy, not place anybody above him. And if that happens, I would expect the Senate to remove his salary. So there it is. John Bolton is not going to be one of the areas of compromise. With respect to the judges, I think there will be a very careful review of some of them. At the District Court level, the Democrats have done a pretty good job of supporting what the President wants. The rub is with the Court of Appeals levels. And I would expect that the judges are likely if they are very conservative and contentious, to be withdrawn. And others will be nominated. The Republicans did to President Clinton exactly what the Democrats are going to do to President Bush with respect to the judgeships.”
Lou Frey: “I personally would like to see Bolton appointed or confirmed. I guess in that. I remember when he was going to be appointed (for his present job) it seemed to many people that the whole world was going to come to an end. And I think he’s done a pretty good job there. I like him but I think Tom’s right, and I think it’s a shame. But that’s the way it goes.
The judges: the big prize is the Supreme Court. We’ve got one judge that is 86 years old; we have a couple others like Ginsburg whose health is maybe not as good as you’d like to have it. And what will happen if something happens to one of them? They probably won’t retire willingly while there is a Republican president. They will try and last out the two years. But what will happen? Tom and I were talking before and we couldn’t think of basically anybody who is presently on earth who would probably be confirmed by the Senate! I think it would just be an impasse. What you would have is both parties waiting for the election in ‘08 to see if they could control it and get a Supreme Court judge in. I believe there are 59 judges now. Some of whom are open, or some of whom are nominated, and I think they’ll cherry pick. And there are some that probably won’t be that controversial. The others will be put on hold. And so we have a court system that is suffering without enough judges, with real problems about moving cases through. That court system will get a little worse than it is, at least for the next couple of years, and then depending on where the Senate is, the House is – by the way, the bad news for the Republicans is in the Senate, next time, and you know we’re up a third, 21 of the 33 up are Republican. And that is not good numbers. 21 of the 33 are Republican seats and that is not good news cause obviously the more you have to protect, the more liable you are. This time, 17 were Democrats and they did an incredible job with what they did. But the numbers going in makes people a little nervous in terms of which way the Senate will go.”
Dr. Darius Furmonovicius, E-AG member: “Thank you so much for your continuous engagement in European Affairs. Do you foresee the United States to take up now a more isolationist position in the world including Europe/ do you intend to continue with an active presence? And what do you think of Russia’s new imperialist ambitions….?”
Tom Downey: “I don’t think isolationism is an option for Americans in the 21st Century, nor is reducing our relations with our European friends and allies. I simply don’t think that an option. I think that with respect to the process of globalization, free trade across borders, ideas, capital, that the President is not likely to get his trade promotion authority, which ends in June of next year. That will probably await another president. But I think that while its true, Democrats sharing ground among them talk about the various trade pacts that have passed as costing jobs to Ohioans. That there is a very deep concern in the Democratic party that the process of globalization has caused it a net loss of jobs in certain sectors, certainly in manufacturing, and that it appears to have benefited the owners of capital at the expense of people in the middle. And rather than attempt to restrict trade, which I hope my party does not do, I would hope that we spend more of our time and energy figuring out how we might re-train workers who have lost jobs, provide a better level of unemployment compensation, healthcare, than try and stand in the way of a continuing process that is good for the whole world, of the flow of goods, ideas and individuals across borders. So I’m not worried that we’re seeing a period of isolation. People in the United States understand that it is a small world. That was brought home to them all too clearly on 9/11 and our disengagement is simply not an option.”
Lou Frey: “The problem of globalization – and Friedman’s book and all that – is one thing. The problem of lost jobs is another. We at the Cape – I represent the Cape area, Cape Kennedy, Cape Space Centre – we lost 20,000 engineers at one point. We went from 28,000 on the Apollo program to 8,000 on the shuttle. And that problem of re-training is something I don’t think we’ve done enough of in the country. I’ve very much tried to be involved in that for a long time. But as regards the problem that we have, I don’t think you can repeal the law of supply and demand. A lot of the jobs have gone to other places. Our economy I think is changing. The rust belt isn’t a rust belt any more because there’s not a heck of a lot to rust up, as there used to be. And we’re going through a period of time where we have a lot of employment in our country. My state has 3.4% unemployment, and you can’t really have any lower than that. But there are a lot of low paid jobs that go along with that. So we’ve got a good economy. Tom and I differ on the tax breaks, and how much it helped or didn’t help. We’re bumbling along in the right way but I think there is a problem and I’m worried personally about the reaction that I get, now I live in Florida. Tom lives inside the beltway, and that, and in New York. And a lot of people outside of the main drags, New York and Washington and so forth, are just getting tired. In our country we have a short term ability to do things, but our patience over a long period of time has never been really one of our greatest attributes. And I find people getting somewhat tired that you can’t believe the press. But there is a lot of that and a lot of the things you hear over and over again is how ‘we did this wrong’ and ‘we did that wrong’ and, lord knows, we have done stuff wrong. I’m not saying we’re perfect in a lot of these things, but we sure try. I mean if there’s a disaster somewhere, you know, with your help the United States is about the first one there doing something about it. I see for the first time in some years some wondering if all this is worth it. That isn’t what I feel, but what I have found and what I have heard. And I think, and I hope and pray that whatever it is that we come up with in Iraq makes sense, not only to us, but to the people over there. I saw what happened in Vietnam. And the disaster that we left in that country and I just hope it’s alright, and that there’s not a big negative reaction. And that’ll be something that I think we all will have to watch and see what happens.”
Florian Heyden, Political Dept., German Embassy: “I have a question concerning a foreign policy issue. Tony Blair has made an appeal to George Bush and the US government, asking the US to take a more pro-active role in Israel-Palestine as well as take a new approach on Iraq? What do you think? On the one side what impact is this appeal likely to make on the US government in and on the other hand what impact do you believe the freshmen Democrats are going to have on the issue?”
Lou Frey: “We’re not doing very well with Iraq right now with the UN. Russia is locked in there, and some stuff and to get anything through the UN that’s useful probably won’t happen. And when you get something through there, at least from what I’ve seen over the years, not much happens anyway. And I think we’ve got to look at another basis.
I was caught in the middle of the Yom Kippur war in the Golan Heights, in ‘73. I’ve followed that for a pretty long time, and to me, if we can solve that problem over there in the mid-east, that would be the most important thing we could do. It would really just help in immeasurable ways. I went, and I knew we’re coming over there, and I wanted to at least have some facts. I went back to the Balfour Accords and there are 37 different peace attempts that have been made in that part of the world that we could find that my staff could put together – and there were 35 mini-wars, so I guess we’re two up on the peace accords. But, I hope, seriously, I don’t think we ought to say no to something off-hand and I think we ought to look at it. You know in politics, just like Nancy Pelosi called the President all sort of names and he called her all sort of names, and now they’re sitting down and working together. So if this is a way to open to something, and get a broader peace deal, I personally am for exploring it. I think, at least in our country – it’s sorta funny I guess! – but Tony Blair would probably get elected. …Over there. So maybe he ought move and we’ll get Tom over here and we’ll trade and so forth. But I think what you have said is important and we ought to listen to it.”
Tom Downey: “I think that, I think what the Prime Minister said is probably more likely to be listened to that what the Democrats tell President Bush. The Prime Minister is viewed with both admiration and disappointment by many Democrats. But I think there’s more admiration than disappointment. And I believe that what he asked is appropriate, important, and difficult for the President to ignore. With respect to the role that the Democrats will play in foreign policy, all of you are expert enough to know that the tools or blunt instruments for the House and the Senate: they can withhold the money, they can opine, they can question in committee – but they can’t really make policy. Obviously that is what the President does. But it is clear to me and I think to my party that there needs to be further discussions with the Iranians and the Syrians without the preconditions that the President has wanted in the past. That makes eminent sense. My ‘significant other’ is a woman by the name of Carol Browner who is our minister of environment for eight years and her partner is Madeleine Albright who is someone I see now regularly, both socially and professionally, and Secretary Albright constantly says that this should be the policy for and towards the Iranians – the fullest and most opportunistic questioning and discussion that we have. And she has the ear of many in our party. So I think that this is an opportunity now for the president, with the advice of a trusted foreign friend, without whom the war in Iraq could not have gone forward in my view. Pay some attention and re-calibrate, and my guess is that he’s going to pay very close attention to it.”
The Hon. Sir Clive Bossom, Bt., Former Conservative MP: “People forget that the Iranians have been a highly educated, cultivated and civilised people for a thousand years…
Interjection from another delegate: So were the Germans!
….Handled carefully now, and not bullied, maybe we can get them to come back and many people I know would like them to come back into world circulation n a different guise from that which they have at present… They’ve been out of it a long time, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way…Just below the surface I think they’re interested…we might have to eat a little humble pie…”
Lou Frey: “I think Tom and I probably agree with you. Is it some 70% of the population of Iran that is under 30 years of age, isn’t it? An incredibly young population with high unemployment under there, is that correct?”
The Hon. Sir Clive Bossom: “Yes indeed.”
Lou Frey: “Just trying to point out that there’s (inaudible) …”
Tom Downey: “I’m afraid that in foreign policy in the United States, there is not always the most thoughtful discussion about how to approach enemies. Now the President has referred to the North Koreans and Iranians as the ‘Axis of Evil.’ So stepping back from that is not as easy a job as it should be. Khatami had attempted to make some movement towards rapprochement which was rebuffed by the White House. So hopefully we’ll figure a way to get around some of the previous statements of the President and begin to talk to them.”
Martin Meenagh, Professor, the Centre for Academic Programs Abroad: “It struck me that there was a point that was underlying both of your points about trade, and your point about Foreign Affairs, and that was the Iraq (situation) would take at least $250 Billion, the People’s Republic of China have lent the US about $262 Billion. The Japanese, the Koreans and the Germans have lent something on the order of a Trillion ($) every year. Every year that goes on, that debt is going to mean higher taxes, more dependence on other things, and worsening conditions for American trade, because the debt is funded by the profit that is made from the deficit by the goods being paid into America. Is anybody in America seriously trying to deal, in your view, in the new Congress, or in the old, with the question of Debt?”
Tom Downey: “Yes. Mrs. Pelosi mentions it in every speech that she gives, that the new Congress will be open, civil and fiscally responsible. And in fact I believe that they will include in the very first set of rules that the House has for itself, which would mean the second vote after she is elected Speaker, that the pay-go rules with respect to budgeting, namely if you want to spend money or you want to have tax cuts, they either have to be paid for with additional tax revenue, or with budget cuts. So the debt of the United States is a present danger to our fiscal health. We spend 20% of our GDP on goods and services for our people and we raise 16%. And so 4% of our GDP per annum is borrowed from somewhere. It used to be borrowed from ourselves and now it’s borrowed from abroad. This is unsustainable, and serious policy-makers in both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party know that it can’t continue.”
Lou Frey: “Part of the reason Republicans have lost their focus over this period of time is because they forgot that they were the party allegedly of fiscal responsibility. Some of us had introduced a balanced budget resolution not necessarily ever thinking that we’d get it through, but put pressure on to do it. Maybe the election results will be an awakening at least for the Republican party, and you may actually get some bipartisan support in terms of moving it that way. We can only be hopeful.”
A delegate: “My question concerns nuclear aggression. Very simply, Koreans, North Koreans will look upon the potential position in America at the moment, and may well accelerate the cost of getting them to abandon the program. How do you think that America will react? How do you think Korea will accept their fate?”
Lou Frey: “With President Bush’s record and his father’s record you pretty well know the position. But from a standpoint of America, I don’t feel good about any of it. That one thing is that you have a lot more people who are in the fight over there. We are not the lone ranger riding off into the sunset on that one. You’ve even got China cutting off the supplies of oil for a little while. So you’ve got more outside pressure. That may be one place the bipartisan, or the multilateralism, that Bush didn’t have before, is at least at the present time working; or at least they’ve got a chance for some talks. (The North Korean President) is like the ringer of a bell. Every once in a while he doesn’t have something or something, and he rings a bell and he gets the attention of everybody, and we go back and try and cut a deal with him …and it doesn’t work. That country is such a closed dictatorship that I don’t know what options we have other than to try and get other people involved and put pressure on him. And if there was a magic solution I think somebody would have come up with it by now.”
Tom Downey: “I meant it before that in the United States a foreign policy tends to be discussed as an extension of domestic policy and often in the most painful, simplistic and dangerous ways. And in this last election we recall that President Bush talked about Iraq by saying the Democrats haven’t shown us a plan to win the war and they don’t have an alternative. And the attempt there was to fashion one party as not only not patriotic, but weak in the face of dangers to our country. Its fair to say that Democrats are as concerned about dangers to our country as are Republicans. Where there are differences, and there are very fundamental differences, is the belief among the Democratic foreign policy elite that multilateral institutions still matter, that diplomacy is still important, and neither have been practiced or pursued with the vigour, the intelligence, that they require. Now both with respect to North Korea, and Iran, the military options that are available to the United States are very, very limited. I think it’s fair to say that there is nobody within either party, with the exception of several extreme neo-conservatives who would suggest somehow that destroying missile emplacements in North Korea or in Iran are viable options. I don’t believe that they are. If Iraq has taught us anything, it is that the limitations of the application of force are very real in the middle east, that our long term needs are not to appear to be weak, but at the same time, to me we have been weak, because we’ve been afraid to sit down and talk to our enemies about our differences. And that has to come to an end. It is not a sign of weakness to talk to people about differences. I mean it’s easy to talk to your friends about what you agree upon; there’s no great trick there. But North Korea, and Iraq, and Iran pose the kind of contentious issues that are really going to require our best people quietly and doggedly attempting to solve these problems without providing political wedges for the American people to make harsh judgements. So my sense is that it is going to be very difficult in the next couple of months as we’re going to sort out how we are going to do these things.”
Lou Frey: “Tom, don’t you also think this is a good time for them to rattle the sabre? Its just another problem on the table. I think it’s very timely on their part to be causing problems. I mean, you’ve got to expect it.”
Tom Downey: “Yes I agree with that.”
A delegate: “Some very disturbing news came through yesterday on Al Qaeda. There was a serious attempt to attack this country. It has also been reported that it has links with Iran. What chance is there realistically of dealing with Iran when it threatens to mount a nuclear attack on Israel?”
Lou Frey: “I think you’ve got to be realistic, the chances are not great. But again as Tom put out, what are the options? Where are you going to go? You know what my fear is of this about Iran? Israel is not going to go quietly into the night. I was over there in the middle of that whole situation years ago and I told Hague that I thought they had atomic weapons because they weren’t as panicked as they should have been. But one thing I knew, is if they did have them, they’d use them. And what I worry about and wake up at night about is that if there is a miscalculation on either Israel’s part or Iran’s part and there won’t be a tree within 300 miles of Jerusalem.
I hope that we can talk, I hope we can do something, I hope we can move it along, I hope we don’t just let this thing go on and on and on until the threat that you are talking about here or in our country and that is perceived. Israel is not going to sit on the sidelines if they think they are threatened. And, that’s why I think we have got to move it along. I think Tom’s right, we’ve got to try diplomacy and we’ve got to do what we can. I’m not much for sitting down and talking with them, but you know you get to a point and you don’t know what else you can do to move it along, and what we’re doing hasn’t worked, and the UN isn’t helping, and then with the security council, you can’t get anything through, so where are you left?”
Clifford Dammers, Democrats Abroad, E-AG member: “The Democrats ran on an ethics programme mainly. Do you think it’s possible here the Democrats can garner a bipartisan effort to get meaningful ethics reform?”
Tom Downey: “It’s an excellent question. The ethics package that would be introduced into the House is the one that only failed by several votes the last time. It includes an elimination of gifts, meals, trips, for incumbent members of Congress; a more transparent process for, and more timely notification of, lobbying activities, and a greater set of rules with respect to how people lobby; a series of measures that would make the ‘earmarking’ more transparent. I think that once members of Congress have to attach their names to these activities that a lot of it – not all of it, but a lot of it – will go away. And so that package will be the second thing that will be voted on in the House. It will not apply to the Senate. The rules that require changes in law are less likely to pass. But yes, I think Democrats understand that if you campaigned as I did with a number of our candidates, the most important thing they talked about during their campaigns was ethics reform. They understand that people are very concerned with the ethical climate that existed in the past and they want to see a break with the past. So yes I think that it will pass and I think it will have a very big impact. I think Congress will be a lot different – if you can’t go out to a meal or whatever; the gifts were a minor matter, those tended to be tickets to sporting events and the like. The trips will be something that frankly they have to give up. They have to prove to the American people that they’re prepared to be dramatically different than their Republican counterparts.”
Lou Frey: “If we can find a way to limit the money, whether the Democrats, Republicans, or I don’t care who, the spending, which would probably be the most important thing that we could do in terms of the ethics in the Congress.”
Dr. David Ayres: “I wanted to refer to global warming. I was a professional scientist for thirty years ago on environmental science and research. I think it’s safe to say that global warming is a crucial issue and without a doubt you are the wealthiest country in the world. The energy footprint of the average American is about four times that of a European, then you suddenly go all the way to ten times that of a Chinese. They must look to you for a lead and so far they haven’t had it. The long term consequences will be catastrophic.”
Tom Downey: “I think that the stern report (sic) which your country issued not long ago was understood at least in circles in our country as the direction that our government needs to take. Its very difficult because Americans somehow believe that its their birthright to have low gasoline prices. That’s not likely to change. But what is likely to change is the effort to change what is known as the corporate average fuel economy, the CAFE standards on existing trucks, light trucks, automobiles, that could dramatically increase. I think that there’s a likelihood that even the President would agree with that. Congress would like to do it. Alternative fuels, are widely viewed in both parties as something that we need to encourage. So, the most useful and important indication that Americans understand it is what has been happening in the states and most notably in California. There’s a determined effort to reduce greenhouse emissions. People understand that while it is expensive to make these changes, its probably a lot less expensive than the alternative. So, I remain pretty optimistic that Democrats and Republicans are going to find some common ground in this area.”
Lou Frey: “I would agree.”
Sir John Osborn (temporary chairman): “It is my task to bring this meeting to a close. Reasonably on time. We have had two speakers from the United States Association of Former Members of Congress, since I first met Lou Frey and I’ve been entertained by him in Washington. I can report that we have an Association of Former Members of Parliament at Westminster, and through the Americans I think I have had something to do with the fact that we have an association here. But they have set as an example of what former Members of Congress can do. It has been followed to a certain extent by Canada, and by European Parliament. But we have a little longer down that road to go in this country. I welcome the fact that former Members of Congress are enabled to open such a lively debate-discussion. But before I close the meeting I would ask Philip Davies with whose centre we are holding the meeting, to give the Vote of thanks.”
Professor Philip Davies, Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library: “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Eccles Centre for American Studies, of which I am the director, was set up by David Eccles, who if you remember was a very senior and prominent Conservative politician with his American wife Mary. Theirs was a wonderful relationship and marriage and they commemorated it, and indeed both of their links with many books, and by setting up the Eccles Centre for American Studies to promote awareness of the American collections in the British library, which are the best North American collections outside of the United States. And of course to promote that this is the greatest research library in the world. It is a wonderful thing to have in this city. And when I came to the meeting of the European-Atlantic Group which the US Association of Former Congress came to some years ago, I persuaded them to make their first ever international visit to the United Kingdom, and this is the fourth year that we’ve done it. During this week, Tom and Lou and I are doing nine events. In the last two days we’ve just done two conferences with students at Universities and school students. By the end of the week they will have had an average audience of well over a thousand people. And true to the groups of congressmen who have been to us before, they show wisdom and engagement with the topics. And to be calmly disputatious as one of the professors who was helping us on the conference today said as he left to me he said: ‘These are the kind of people the US government ought to send to us. They should send more people like this.’ On that note, thank you very much for the contribution that you’ve done already this evening, and I’m sure we’ll have more of it later. Thank you.”
Lord Dykes (Chairman): “I can assure by the way those only just attending the dinner tonight that we have two of the most fluent politicians in America.”
Lou Frey: “We lost. No excuses. We got the hell beat out of us. We did a lot wrong as the Republican Party. (Encapsulates earlier reasoning as to why this happened).
Now the world is not over, the sky is still there. I was in the leadership in Congress in ‘74 when Tom was ‘a Watergate baby’; he came in 25 years old with 75 new Democrats, and I think we went down to 140-something in the House of Representatives. And it was a long time but Jimmy Carter came along and we were able to survive. And when you look at the Congress, you have to remember a couple of things: number one, the Senate works on it works on 60 votes. So the fact that the Republicans are down 51-49, it doesn’t make any difference. Nobody is going to run the Senate. You can stop the Senate, one Senator can stop it, and there aren’t 60 votes there for anything. I don’t even think you could make Fourth of July a holiday in the Senate right now. The Senate is really at a standstill. So while the Republicans are in the minority and the Democrats have the right to name the chairmen, and bring the issues up. But they still can’t pass a bill, nor can they pass, nor can they nominate a Supreme Court justice if one of them dies or retires.
The House is totally different, the House works on a majority principle, if you have one vote more, you run the whole deal – you get every chairman, every subcommittee chairman, you set up every rule, you hold every committee, you have subpoena power, you have witness power. The House is run on a majority basis, and the Democrats have that majority and they are going to run the House. Caveat: years ago there were three parties in the House, the Republicans, the Democrats and the conservative southerners. There are today three parties, the Republicans, the Democrats and the ‘Blue Dog’ Democrats. If you haven’t heard that term before, you are going to be hearing an awful lot about it. Those are what are left of your conservative and moderate Democrats. There aren’t very many, but they just got doubled. Many of the Democrats who won this time, won on Republican issues. They won, they were against abortion, they were against gun control, they were against stem cell research, they were for fiscal responsibility, a balanced budget, reducing the debt. And they are in there now. And so as Tom and I have discussed for the last two days with about a thousand kids by now, the real question is going to be, can Nancy Pelosi, who’s the leader and a liberal Democrat, is she going to be able to structure the legislation as such that she can keep the Democratic party together? Because if so, then in the first two or three or four months, they are going to be able to do enough that they can probably control the House and Senate for the next two years and even more.
One other problem, next time, 21 of the 33 seats up in the Senate are Republicans and that’s not good for us because of the number. Only a third running each time, but we have an awful lot running. So that is going to be one of the real issues, the other issue is, is this so bad right now, because we’ve lost all the moderate Republicans, they have just been eliminated all across the country. So the Republicans are more conservative, and the Democrats are a little more liberal, there is no middle. Is it so bad that each party wants to do something? We could have our own grand alliance like Germany and move some legislation through? I don’t know. We can talk; we’ll talk about it later. We’ll talk about the Presidential race, and the sweepstakes on that. I think that just maybe sorta gives you a feel of where we are fact wise. Not the spin wise. This is not Fox or CNN or whatever. This is where we are, and you’ll hear a lot of rationalization and that. But in politics the numbers count and that’s where we are. Tom?”
Tom Downey: “Thank you Lou. It’s an honour to be here. And in a way I’m humbled and reminded of what Henry Kissinger used to say. He used to say that while he was Secretary of State if he gave a speech and nobody got it, they thought it was them. But when he left the State Department, they suddenly realized it might be him. So with that in mind, let me be brief (Encapsulates earlier reasoning as to the explanation of the election result).
You have been reading recently of what Democratic senators said on Sunday with respect to Iraq. And that is that there is a real message that the Democratic Party feels it needs to deliver to the President that the current path that we are on needs to be finished. And clearly in the next several weeks the Iraq study group with former Secretary Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton will offer the Bush administration an opportunity to break from the past and attempt to have some sort of Bipartisan cooperation with respect to that particular problem. Now, Lou has been a delight to work with, and it is unusual in American Politics that Democrats and Republicans when given a public forum, actually treat each other civilly. And I think that is one of the big problems with American Politics. Our voices tend to be too strident. Rather than listening to one another, we talk over one another. And that is a very big problem. And so for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid they have an imperative. They have been given the ball. If I can continue the sports metaphor: not so much because they earned it, but because the other side may have fumbled it away. Now that they have it, they have an interesting conundrum. While the core of the Democratic Party seriously dislikes the President, and is seriously opposed to every element of his foreign policy, and almost every element of his domestic policy. Those two leaders have to fashion a way initially at least to try and get along with the President. And there is some opportunity actually to do that. I know this may sound somewhat naïve, but the President understands that if he is to have any legacy other than the one of being the worst President in American history, he is going to have to figure out a way to accomplish some things. Democrats will present him that opportunity.
Clearly raising the minimum wage is an important issue, immigration reform impossible to do with the conservatives in his party, is now possible to do with the Democrats. Even on issues concerning the environment and on energy alternatives there will be opportunities for the Democrats and Republicans to agree. I would expect for both tactical reasons as well as important long term ones, both Senator Reid and Speaker to be Pelosi, want to be able to prove to the American people that handing the Democrats the reins of power has not been yet another exercise in futility. That they are capable and willing to listen to the voice of the electorate and getting something done. Now with respect to foreign policy this is much trickier. If the Iraq study group suggests to him that in order for us to eventually withdraw troops, we need to stabilize Iraq with more troops, we need to deal with the Mahdi army before we can leave Iraq, then I’m afraid the opportunity for compromise may be lost. Clearly the Democrats think you’re on a time frame here even though they can’t enforce that. The only tools that the Congress has when it comes to foreign policy are very crude ones, namely the ability to stop the money, which I don’t think any Democrat, thinks is a proper role. To suddenly pick up and leave today would be a cruel and unusual punishment for the Iraqi people. And I think it would inimical to the long term interests of our country. But it will be a very tricky couple of months when it comes to foreign policy.
Democrats governing today alluded to the fact that Nancy Pelosi is a liberal Democrat. Indeed she is. Senator Durbin is a liberal Democrat. Senator Schumer would not call himself such but he is a fairly progressive one. The common thread that Democrats have that they did not have when they had power last time is that they’ve been out of power for twelve years. They have lived under the very capable thumb of the Republican party marshalling its small majorities in a very effective way in the House and an even more effective way from time to time in the Senate. Nancy Pelosi and Dick Durbin and all of the leaders were all House members together. For the most part the leaders in the Democratic party have known each other personally and professionally for 20 years. What I think you are likely to see is a level of cooperation between the House leadership and the Senate leadership that has never existed in the past for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they like the idea of being the majority and they want to stay there. Secondly, they want to lay the groundwork for a Democratic President, and they know that using the committee system thoughtfully and effectively reviewing what happened in Iraq, what happened with Hurricane Katrina, and trying to understand the failures of the Dept. of Homeland Security. That if this is done properly it will lay the predicate for a Democratic ascendancy in 2008.
So the bad news for the Republicans is that there are areas where the Democrats and Republicans are going to agree. The good news for Democrats and in my opinion for the country is we’re going to have the first friendship government play its historic and traditional role of overseeing what has happened in Congress over the last couple of years, what programs and policies need to be fixed, what needs more money and less money. And the Democrats have been given a historic opportunity in that they have never been considered by the American people the party of fiscal discipline. They have never been considered by the American people as the party that is interested in National security and is prepared to wield the tools of national security effectively. But they are now given a chance to prove to the American people that they’re not going to increase the deficit, that they can work with the President when it’s in their interest to do so, and when it’s in the National interest to do so. And I think they are more likely to succeed than fail. For a Democrat I suspect, this may sound hopelessly naïve, but the leaders that we currently have realize their opportunities.”
Professor Philip Davies (opening Discussion): “One of the things I thought I might be able to do is actually review some of the comments that Lou and Tom had made at the previous meeting. In order to give some idea to those of you who weren’t there, of things they had said. In fact they reviewed their own comments with some brilliance so I can be acceptably brief. That was what they said, they’ve just said it even more quickly and briefly. And who think conceptually and speak in paragraphs.
Nonetheless, there is something I I will take up, Lou here said that the ‘Republicans were wiped out.’ And of course George Bush has said ‘we took a thumping.’ I’m not convinced of this at all. It seems to me that the Republicans actually fended quite well. I was trying to think of a metaphor for what they faced and Lady Armstrong who is here was telling me that she was about to sail the Atlantic and perhaps unfortunately for her, came to me back with the expression, ‘Perfect Storm.’ You may have seen the movie, apparently frightening if you are about to sail the Atlantic. It seems to me that the Republicans faced the perfect storm. After all they are the party of foreign policy and defence, and yet they are the party that is now held to account for the entry, the conduct of the war, and the poor reconstruction of Iraq. They are the party of family value, and yet they faced the scandal of Mark Foley right at the end. They are the party of fiscal responsibility, yet they are the party that faced the scandal of Jack Abram off, or at least more of it than the Democrats did. They are the party of administrative excellence, yet they are the party that faced the calamity that was Katrina.
It seems to me they faced a ‘Perfect Storm’ and yet they came out losing only 29 seats. I actually thought they’d lose fewer, so they did worse than I thought they would do. The actual difference in votes is relatively small. They got 46% of the national vote whereas the Democrats got 54% of the national vote. Now the last time that happened was 1992. And in 1992 on that vote the Republicans ended up with 175 seats. This time they are going to end up with 203. Now that suggests that they are actually organizing quite well, that campaigns matter, and that they’ve minimized their losses quite dramatically, and left everything up for grabs. So what has changed in the landscape?
Well what has changed in the landscape is that the northeast has become Democratic. Of over 95 house seats in the northeast, 70 now are held by Democrats and only 25 by Republicans. In the south it has switched from the way that it was, even only in 1992. In 1992 there were nearly 90 Democratic seats in the south, and about 50 Republicans, and it is now almost exactly opposite. 86 – 56. So that the south has become a Republican space. In the mid-west the Republicans made small gains, the west remains much the same as it was. So there have been regional changes; there have also been changes where the population are. Lou said it makes a difference between married and unmarried women, I put the same difference on married and unmarried men, the Republicans get the majority of all married votes in the United States. The Democrats get two-thirds of all unmarried votes in the United States. Now, as families, children are the future, as more and more families become non-traditional, this suggests that that is good territory for the Democrats. I’m not entirely sure why, but it does suggest it. Also in this vote, the population between 30-60 voted precisely as the national population, 54-46 . The population under 30 voted about 65-35 Democratic. That is a good sign for the Democrats. – possibly, if they can hold on to it. So, the future is what’s important; the short term future is tremendously important.
Can the Democrats and Republicans remain cooperative, or at least civil? Civil, perhaps cooperative would be asking for a little too much! Civil for the next two years towards the 2008 elections? Because they would want to go into the Presidential election without other baggage attached to them? And in the long term, which of these population groups are going to be the ones that are significant?”
Kevin Cahill, E-AG member: “I had lunch today at the very heart of our military establishment, our withdrawal from Iraq is called, at least informally, but not formally….Operation Dunkirk. We expect to be under fire and take very serious casualties on the way out. May I leave my question hanging?”
Tom Downey: “I was reading in the New York review of books, a review of a new book on Dunkirk that defines it as a strategic victory for the British Expeditionary Force, because it lived to fight again. I don’t view things in such dramatic terms. I don’t think we’ll have the British forces or the American forces leave under fire. My guess is they’re not going to leave any time soon and there’ll be a phased deployment down of forces, and presumably Democrats and Republicans will agree to a plan, or try to agree to a plan, that will accomplish that fact. The American people do not think the effort in Iraq has been worth the blood and the treasure that we’ve spent on it. It is important on occasion in a democracy to pay attention to what the American people are telling you. Because they are ultimately the arbiters of whether or not you continue in power or not so, so there’s going to be a change in direction. I wouldn’t describe it in the way that you just have. I remember when I was in the Congress of the United States in 1975 when we evacuated the American Embassy with helicopters, which landed on aircraft carriers, that we then pushed off the deck of the aircraft carrier so to make room for other refugees. I would note ironically thirty-seven years later that the President of the United States is going to Vietnam under the most unusual of circumstances, attempting to forge even greater ties with an enemy of ours. So I think that rather than trying to make this more difficult, the American Congress and the American President – the American President more than the American Congress – are going to try and figure out a way for us to exit in a way that is not worse for us or worse for the Iraqis.”
Michael Shrimpton, National Security Lawyer, Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies at American Military University: “Climate change: a lot of people including Al Gore are beating up on the Americans over climate change. We know it is a normal process every year and only 5% of the carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere. And we know that the planet is probably stable at the moment and possibly even slightly cooling. Would you agree that the Americans have been criticized far too much by the Europeans over climate change? Americans should be allowed to carry on, cheap gasoline, doing what they want, as long as they want to do it.”
Lou Frey: “If the American gasoline gets to the price of Europe we will have a lot of legislation on this issue! We think it’s a right in our country to drive the biggest cars with cheap gas. And my biggest failure in the Congress was years ago when the oil was turned off, and I felt we needed to get away from an oil economy, and we needed to look at the liquification and gasification of coal, hydrogen economy fuel cells, photovoltaic, and we spent 4-5 Billion dollars a year to start with. We imported 33% of our oil at the time, and of course when the spigot got turned back on, we gave up all of that research. And we’re paying for our stupidity. Now we have 60% of our oil being imported, no control basically, over the price.
I think that’s what we have to do in the long run – get away from oil, or at least to have alternatives to the use of it. The question of the greenhouse effect and what it is: You know I was in the Navy, I’m a sailor, I have a fishing boat, I spend a lot of my time in the water. Marcia and I have had three hurricanes over our house, a couple times. I’m not really sure of all of the facts, but I do think that it’s about time that at least as a nation, we started at least looking at the issue. It wasn’t just the Republicans by the way who turned down the Kyoto treaty came up – and Bill Clinton eventually signed it – it was the Democrats and Republicans in the Senate who indicated they weren’t going to vote for it; they weren’t going to ratify it.
We are now moving in our country through states like California, who passed legislation which will have an impact on this, and I think other states will follow along. So what we want to do, is at least be willing to at least talk a little bit about it, look at it, there are maybe ways to do it. There maybe are some things. I don’t think we should just reject it out of hand. This is an area that the Republicans and the President can move without retreating, without doing much. It isn’t going to take very much. And the impact of the United States worldwide, because some of the things that have happened, in Iraq and so forth, does mean our stance in the world is pretty low. Now look, nobody is ever going to love us. You can’t expect people to. You hope they respect you. But we have done a lot of stuff to bring this on ourselves, and I think this is one area where a lot of people in the world are concerned about it. I am willing to take a look at it, to see where it’s going, to see if there are things that we can work on together. And not dismiss it out of hand.”
Melanie Prendiville: “I think the time has come for the Americans, especially the next President, to stop this imposing of your kind of democracy on different cultures and concentrate on your home policy.”
Tom Downey: “Al Gore would not allow me to enter his home if I didn’t say one thing about climate change here. The fact is that this is a real and present danger to our world, those people who deny the reality of what 500 peer-reviewed scientific articles suggest as a warming of planetary temperatures can live in the fantasy that they choose. I choose to live in a world that addresses this problem directly and courageously, because it is a real problem, and Senior Colonel Tang and I both have sons, and I think we’d like to turn a peaceful West-polluted world over to them to run.
Now with respect to Democrats and our foreign policy: understand that the President of the United States is the central policy person in foreign policy and that is not going to change. It will take a Democratic President in 2008 in my opinion to repair the damage that has been done in the last six years by this President. In 9/11, after 9/11, the entire world was sympathetic to the United States, including the Iranians, who sent us a note of sympathy and concern. The world’s good will towards the United States has been squandered in a series of political misadventures that even the most obtuse have to understand are inimical not only to the world’s health, certainly our country’s health. The President is a man who sees good guys and bad guys, black and white, yes and no. I’m afraid that the world is not good guys and bad guys. Sometimes we have to make deals with guys we don’t particularly like. We certainly need to be able to talk to everyone. We inhabit a very small planet. President Kennedy said this so eloquently in 1963 in his speech at American University, about the Russians who were a far greater problem than terrorists are today. And the United States dealt effectively, courageously, with the threat that the Soviet Union posed to world peace and the United States. It was a combination of strength and intelligent diplomacy, and fortitude.
American Foreign Policy is not a civil discussion. It’s not a thoughtful discussion either on television or elsewhere. If you listen to members of Congress talk about these problems they don’t credit one another’s collective humanity. I don’t believe that Republicans want war, I know that Democrats don’t want war. I know Democrats are not anxious to denude us of our military of strength. We understand that it is still a dangerous world that requires us to be ready on occasion and only in the last resort to use force. But we need to figure out a way to talk to the Iranians, to have our Chinese friends help us deal with the North Koreans, and we need to understand that it is a small planet and a small place and it can be a peaceful better world if we have the political will, the courage and the diplomatic skill to bring it about.”
John Coleman, Editor of the New European: “It seems to me that in democracies we run into great difficulty with domestic and foreign policy getting mixed up – inextricably mixed up. I wonder if there is some way in which you can still have your President, but he could be made also a chairman of a separate group, perhaps of both parties, that deals with foreign policy? And it is separated.”
Lou Frey: “Look at the history of our country and the constitution, the federalist papers; look at even the constitution the way it’s written. One of our worries was the powers of the Presidency, and how long it would be, and how it would get going, and they cut a deal at the last minute in terms of what it was. And one of the problems over the years has been the division of power with the Presidency or with the Congress and how it goes back and forth as such. And what we’ve had in some cases is a very strong President and with the Congress being relatively weak and coming on. We tried to pass the ‘War Powers Act’ which we did pass some years ago and which has been totally ineffective as far as any of the incursions that we’ve been involved in. I think the problem that you would have is firstly that if the President is doing his job, and getting the information, and he’s got all the ability to do it, then he really doesn’t need a separate organization or committee or anything to do it. I mean he’s got the ability to do it, and that’s his job, and if he messes up, then he messes up. As we used to say in the Navy ‘I’ve got the watch’ and it’s my responsibility. So I think that would be a way of diverting it. Now the Baker commission – it was recommended by Frank Wolf, a member of congress from Virginia to start that – said that it was a good idea to have somebody else look at it outside of just the inner-workings of the White House and I think that’s a different issue. But the White House wasn’t in it as such, the President wasn’t in it. And I think the President would look at that as a dilution of his powers or her powers as the case may be in a few years. So while I think it’s a good idea, and an interesting idea sir, I just don’t think that in the way we’re set up and the way we approach the issue that would sell.”
Daniel Hatting, University of Pittsburgh, Assistant to E-AG: “Given the majority that’s just gone over to the Democrats, though it is a slim majority, and the historical separation in the Democrats between the far left and the moderate Democrats, and the fact that there is a Presidential election in just two years, is it possible that either of you think that two years is a sufficient amount of time for the Democrats to do themselves considerable harm, as far as getting elected in 2008?”
Lou Frey: “:Gee I hope so!”
Tom Downey: “When I was a majority member of the House, we luxuriated in the fact that we were the majority; we didn’t think that we’d ever lose our majority, we had sufficient numbers. And I want to say that we were probably not very disciplined, and we didn’t appreciate how important the majority was. Being out of power for twelve years, we now understand a majority is that important; to constitute one you need to consider different points of view to maintain the majority. That means that conservative Democrats from the mid-west, and from the west, who may have different views on social issues, like reproductive rights or gun control have to be accommodated under the broad Democratic tent. So the real challenge for the Democratic leadership is to focus on those areas where there is broad Democratic agreement. Jon Tester the new Senator from the state of Montana, with a crew cut is an example. He is a farmer, one of the few members of Congress who could actually oil a combine effectively. This in my opinion had never been a requirement to be a Senator but I’m glad we have one there now who can do this. Well, he’s proud of the fact that he’s a gun-toting conservative Democrat, but what he does agree with, is the need for a minimum wage increase, stem-cell research, and a whole host of other matters, and he agrees that what we need is a change in the direction of our foreign policy with respect to Iraq. And so there are broad areas of agreement, so for those of you who, I know, are good Republicans and horrified by the idea that your majority was lost. I would say to you, don’t take comfort in the idea that the Democratic far left is somehow going to immolate itself. Because its not. It’s rested, it’s ready to govern, and it understands that there’s nothing wrong with compromise, there is nothing wrong with listening to diverse points of view, that indeed when you do those things you are more powerful, not less powerful. ”
Lou Frey: “You know in one way Tom, I really wish you were there, I’d feel a little better. But I have more confidence in the Democrats ability to screw up than you do. Or the Republicans for that mater; it took you forty years to get to the point where you were arrogant and got thrown out, we did it in twelve. And what Tom said is truly the key is what’s going to happen. And Nancy Pelosi is a very strong person and a personal friend of Tom’s, a very strong leader, but how strong can she be? What’s going to happen the first time that some Democrat who won in a Republican district, doesn’t want to go along with one of these issues, if they aren’t right in the middle? It’s great to point these issues out Tom, the ones that are in the middle, but what about the ones that are going to be in the periphery? All of a sudden she’s asking for his vote, and he doesn’t do it, and so she takes away his subcommittee chairmanship or something like that, and how is that going to sell? Now everybody can say, ‘Oh my goodness, I’ll never do it again’ but that isn’t the way the Congress works. Everybody up there thinks they ought to be a Senator, or President, maybe not in that order. So I think it’s going to be difficult. Now if she can do that, and she can navigate those treacherous waters, it’s going to be an extremely successful time. And remember also, whatever you do, you’ve got to get done in the next six months. Once you get past the point where the Presidential primaries are starting, remember we got four of them now in January, its changed. We have Iowa caucus as usual, and then after Nevada – they added Nevada – then you go back to New Hampshire to the vote, and then you go to South Carolina. So the pace is going to pick up, and once you get to that part of the election cycle, forget anything getting through of any kind. I mean, seriously, legislation stops and everybody positions themselves. And so I think it’s up in the air, it’s certainly a possibility that she can do it, but I think there’s also a good possibility it just isn’t going to work.”
Lord Dykes: “These are heartfelt admissions and confessions. This is a fascinating session. I know as a member of the House of Lords, we’re not even elected at all – until a reform comes around, and we like that. In the Senate in Paris you have a nine year term I think. American politics seems by comparison just non-stop electioneering and fund-raising.”
Joy Roscoe: “For as long as we can remember, America stood tall, it had success and aggression in industry, in the arts, and certainly in two world wars. It came to the rescue, and more than just the rescue. America’s role in the world was very clear. The Iraq role is more depressing and as we’ve heard tonight the stance on it would not necessarily be yours. What do you think America’s role will be in the rest of the 21st Century? In the western world? How do you think America is going to position itself in the 21st Century?”
Lou Frey: “We are very uncomfortable in the role of the world’s policeman. We are lousy imperialists. We ought to listen to you all a little bit about how to maybe handle things better. And we are struggling to find out what we should really do and where we should put our resources. This is the most disquieting time in my life to me personally. Because when I was growing up and I was in the Navy, I knew where the planes were going to go and who we were going bomb. And I knew where the bad guys were. It was pretty simple. We had MAD – Mutual Assured Destruction. It wasn’t good, but at least it was in one way settled. And now with my kids and my grandkids, if they travel, I worry all the time. Where they’re going to go, what they’re going to do. I know that I would if I could, do anything I could, to stop somebody from blowing your kids up or mine, but I don’t know who, or where to go, and I’m not sure what’s going to go on with it. I know that we are maybe at fault for some things but, on the other hand, a lot of stuff happened before we went into Iraq where people were blowing it up. You had your problems here with ‘the troubles’ for a long time. So when you ask where America is going, we also are sort of struggling to find out where it is we are going to go. We have a couple of things going, the fact that we don’t want to do this, but nobody else really can do it. And how do we use those resources well? You can’t be every place in the world that you’d like to be. Look at Africa! You talk about the free world, forgetting what’s going on and the murders and the massacres are in Africa that nobody even talks about.
There are just a lot of problems throughout the world. I am nervous personally, and worried about it because more and more people I know – and I don’t live in Washington, I live home, we’ve lived in the same house for forty years, I commuted, I go to the same church, I go to the same little league field, I know people. People talk to me. And people say to me ‘Why are we bothering? We read the press; the Brits don’t like us, they think we’re bad, and they don’t like the President’ and I say ‘Well go to France!’ And we try and do stuff right, true some of it works out bad, but nobody really seems to like us. And you shouldn’t expect to be liked. I guess you’d like to be, but I think respected is a better word.
I find something that I think is dangerous in our country and growing, is sort of a feeling of – much as I hate to use the world – isolationism. Because we’ve been through that several years ago, but still we are sort of feeling that maybe this all isn’t working. And I happen to think that what we’re trying to do, if we can do it in the right way, is worth it. I also believe there’s a right and there’s a wrong, everything isn’t relative, and its a tough time. And I truly, personally, am much unsettled. I don’t get unsettled really but I’m as much unsettled as I’ve ever been. I’m not sure where we’re going to be in three or four years from now. And that’s not whether there’s a Democrat President or a Republican President, I just mean as a nation. And I think of the people that I know up there Tom, and you know, the one’s who really care, and I don’t think far out of the middle, a lot of people in our country who are asking the same question that you are. And unfortunately I don’t have an answer yet/ I can just tell you how I feel.”
Tom Downey: “I thought that was a terrific answer because I know that there are things that I feel that I would like to see, with the world as a better place, where children had a chance to grow up with opportunity, that we didn’t have as many poor children, poor people that we have, and a less polluted world. These are all fairly fanciful notions, but I think that there is a common humanity that binds us all together. And the question for the United States is, and Lou has put his finger on it, what role do we have? We’ve always had an important role, through the last two centuries I’d like to think the United States stood for the rule of law. It stood for the recognition that freedom was important. We had more of a sense of, there’s a term that’s called ‘the American exceptionalism’. You know that somehow we were the city on the hill; we were the beacon of hope for the world. And that’s a good thing to tell other Americans, but I think we need to appreciate how the world looks at us, and I don’t think Americans have done a particularly good job of understanding how the world looks at us. Because what we see ourselves being, is very different, than what the rest of the world sees. And if we can reconcile those two things, then I will be very happy with what we’ve accomplished. I see the United States, if I can just end on this note, playing an important role in international institutions, then promoting the rule of law, and listening to people who we might not necessarily agree with, but respecting our differences. That’s the world I want to live in. And I know that there are lots of Americans that want to live in that world as well, but getting there is not going to be all that easy. We don’t tend to have, as Lou and I have talked about before and here, a sort of thoughtful discourse. Our politics is crude and raw. It needs to change so that we can address some of these very difficult questions, because otherwise we may miss the boat. I want to see a United Nations that deals with Darfur. I want to see a world that intervenes in the genocide before it occurs in Rwanda. I mean, I’m not afraid to use force to accomplish good things, but I know the United States can’t do that alone, nor should it do it alone. It needs do it in conjunction with others. Back in 1961, McCloy and Zorin in the United Nations laid out a plan for an international peacekeeping force. In the idea that the Russians and United States back in 1961 could figure out a way to think about using their great power, military power, to accomplish good things. If it’s possible to do that with the Soviet Union, as an enemy, I think it’s possible for us to figure out ways to do that as well. But it is clearly something that we are going to have to talk a lot about in the United States, and kind of educate ourselves to do, before it actually happens.”
Darius Furmanovicius: “The Kremlin continues to harbour its imperial ambitions and particularly using its energy resources, blackmailing neighbouring states, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. What sort of views do you have on that? How does the United States feel about continuing to engage in Europe? What is the thinking on energy cooperation, with various energy-saving technologies of the United States, Europe and Japan?”
Lou Frey: “I had the privilege to be asked to go to the Ukraine several years ago as an observer of the elections over there. I was not surprised, I guess, but negatively impressed about how much the President of the Soviet Union was involved in that election. If you remember one of the candidates was poisoned and then run off the road. And the election was rigged. And they had the election and when we made the report and had the press conferences there was so much outcry that of course they had another election and finally there was a change. Now the government is back to almost where it was. But what really impressed me was the fact that it was the Russians who had sent in the KGB; they had people running the campaign, literally, who were from Russia and running the campaign, and very much involved. I spent a lot of time talking with the people over there about that. It is just what you’re talking about, the energy involvement, and so forth. Haven’t you written a paper on that issue, in that whole area, which will be published?
It is a problem and there’s a larger problem, in terms of how we’re going to deal with the Soviet Union, or Russia, and its expansion. I say the Soviet Union, because that is what they’d like to be. And to me it is an issue that we’re just going to have to worry about and go delicately with. But you look at these things and you start talking about them, and you talk about Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and you go around the world and you get tired just thinking about it. I think we are just about at a place where it’s better than it was, and certainly we aren’t pointing missiles at each other.”
Tom Downey: “I think it’s much more in the hands of the Russian people, their future is, than it is in the hands of the United States. I also think the Russians would tell you – Putin and others would say – that there is no going back. I’m a little sceptical. Certainly it appears as though there is much more in the way of controlling the press. There’s a cowboy capitalism that the Russians are going through, that anybody who observes would be concerned about. But, they’re an important part of the world’s economy, they’re a powerful state, and we’ll continue to yell at them about Chechnya when it’s appropriate to do that, and also to try and make sure we integrate them as completely as we can into the world’s economy, and I don’t think we have a choice there. But I certainly hope, and I may sound naïve, but the Russian people have tasted freedom to a certain extent. They’ve tasted, well some of them have, the benefits of capitalism, and maybe that might be enough. There’s nothing the United States is going to do or tell them that is going to make them change their attitudes or behaviour any time soon. I mean I think that is the policy the President has followed. The problem with American foreign policy is that its been so focused on one dimension that its really allowed a lot of it’s diplomacy in other parts of the world to lapse. To me, the Russians are one of those areas where we need to spend a little more time and attention.”
A delegate: “Can you give us your views on the rapidly growing world population, and the issues that this raises for America?”
Tom Downey: “Demographically I think the Hispanic population is growing dramatically in our country and other ethnic minorities are growing faster. I think the replacement rate for American white Anglo-Saxons, who are now a distinct minority in our country, is about two. America is a big country. There’s a lot of room for a lot of people and I’m delighted frankly that there are more of them. Americans. Because we’re going to need them to pay my social security bill, when the time comes! The way our system of pensions work, the more Americans there are, the better it is to be older Americans.”
Ann Hodson-Pressinger: “So many Americans have not travelled abroad; the proportion of those with passports is low – don’t you think that more travel would give them more of an idea the problems abroad?”
Lou Frey: “I think my kids and my grandkids would love your idea. I don’t know who’s going to pay for it though. I do think that travel is good. I think that most of the members of Congress do have passports. I think the Republicans a while back made that argument pretty stupid, and said we don’t have them, but I think that’s passed. I actually would like to go down a way a little different from you. I think that serving your country is a good thing, I would love to see in our country the young people be required between 18 and 21 to do something for a year to help the country. It could be working at the hospital. It could be building habitat for humanity. It could be enlisting in the service you want, and so forth. I think giving back, being in a position to give back and that. I know going into the service changed my life totally. All of a sudden I was forced to have responsibility and do things and not that you take from your own. One of the things that I think is important is to get people to understand that like in our country we are given so much that we take for granted. It’s practically sinful what we do. We’re lucky. I just thank the Lord and I’m sure you all do too. Where I was born I have had the chance to do things. And I would love to see our kids have the opportunity to do it. The year out of your life isn’t much, in doing that kind of thing. Maybe if they go abroad, maybe they can do a lot of things. But, Service to your country, I don’t think there is any higher call.”
Tom Downey: “I endorse those comments heartily and suggest that certainly travel abroad is important, and I hope that members of Congress travel abroad. There have been long periods of time when they were afraid to do so. And if I wanted one group to understand how the world worked it would be the people who make our laws.”
Lord Dykes: “Thank you very much. Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope you agree, we’ve had two stars tonight. And now to give our genuine thanks is Sir John Osborn.”
Sir John Osborn: “We have had a fascinating evening. And I would like to thank our two speakers from the United States. And I would like to congratulate the members of the E-AG for their questions in the House of Commons and for their contribution to the discussion tonight.
I first went to America fifty-six years ago. I got used to Capitol Hill about thirty-five years ago. In the last fifteen years I’ve come to know the United States Association of Former Members of Congress. They have helped create the Association of Former Members of Parliament of Westminster. I have to thank the United States and Canada for obtaining a badge for me to get into the House of Commons easily! We have done a good deal more. Now what you don’t realize is their annual report is part of the proceedings of Congress. And they are coming to be noticed for the proceedings in Congress. Their annual meeting is invariably chaired by the Speaker. We haven’t got quite that far in this country. But Former Members of Congress are a back-up to Members of Congress. And this is happening in other countries too, and I welcome it. I think as an example of this Lou Frey said he’d been to the Ukraine. Because monitoring of elections is now being taken up by former Parliamentarians and Members of Congress. They are over here on a campus program. They have a campus program in their own country and they also proceed overseas, including this country. And they learn what other countries think of the United States. And those in this country can benefit from their views on life.
Lou Frey and Tom Downey have given us a fine contribution in the House of Commons and now at dinner tonight. I learn every time I meet former Members of Congress because there is great cooperation between the opposing parties, and this is a model to many other countries. We’ve witnessed an example of it tonight. I very much welcome the extent to which Congress and former Members of Congress can work together. I would like on behalf of you all, to thank Lou Frey, whom I have know for several years and Tom Downey whom I’ve just met for giving us a fascinating insight on what is going on the other side of the Atlantic.”