Perspectives — A Forum for RAND Guest Speakers

Civil Civics

Leaders Gather for Post-Election Opportunity to Set Politics Aside

Michael Lynton, chairman and chief executive officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment and cochair of Politics Aside 2010 and his wife, Jamie.
Michael Lynton (right), chairman and chief executive officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment and cochair of Politics Aside 2010 (pictured here with his wife, Jamie), initiated the weekend by lauding its unique substantive format: “Politics Aside is a very welcome antidote to an excess diet of political punditry and 30-second attack ads. This is a different kind of production for Sony Pictures, but one that we are honored to host.”

More than 200 policymakers, civic and business leaders, researchers, and philanthropists gathered around Los Angeles this past November for a weekend of panel discussions, seminars, and conversations collectively known as Politics Aside 2010. RAND organized the events to promote nonpartisan discourse in the wake of the heated election season.

Held in a variety of venues — RAND’s headquarters campus, Sony Pictures Studios, the Creative Artists Agency, and nearly a dozen private homes — the wide-ranging conversations throughout the weekend addressed national and global challenges across the policy spectrum. While some participants considered the implications of a nuclear Iran or the media’s changing role in informing policy, others pondered the potential consequences of climate change, education reform, health care reform, or the security situation in Mexico. Still other voices shared first-hand experiences, from the frontlines in Afghanistan to the U.S. Gulf Coast during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Proceeds from Politics Aside support RAND’s Investment in People and Ideas program, which funds research inquiries into critical but often underappreciated policy areas and helps to attract the world’s top talent to focus on these challenges. square

Dennis Miller moderates the discussion with Michael Lynton, Karen Elliott House and Jerry Murdock.
Dennis Miller moderates the discussion with Michael Lynton, chairman and chief executive officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment; Karen Elliott House, former publisher of the Wall Street Journal; and venture capitalist Jerry Murdock, a major investor in Twitter.

“I was just lining my parrot’s cage with Kindles.”

—Dennis Miller, comedian and moderator of a panel
on the changing role of the media

“You shouldn’t mourn newspapers going under. You should mourn newsgathering going under. Newspapers paid for that. The distribution is not the issue; it’s what’s distributed.”

—Karen Elliott House,
former publisher of
the Wall Street Journal

“We’re approaching a time when the vast majority of us will all be linked to each other. That’s going to have profound consequences in the way we organize ourselves in society.”

—Jerry Murdock, venture capitalist

Jonathan Alter, senior editor of Newsweek.
Jonathan Alter, senior editor of Newsweek, joined a panel discussion on education reform following a screening of the documentary film Waiting for “Superman,” which explores the current state of education in the United States. Joining Alter on the panel were Lesley Chilcott, producer of the film; John Deasy, deputy superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District; and Brian Stecher, acting director of RAND Education.

“To the extent that democracies cannot deliver basic services to their citizens, the prestige of democracy relative to an efficient authoritarian country like China is going to suffer.”

—Francis Fukuyama, senior fellow,
Stanford University

“China is aging far more rapidly than a traditional developing economy. Their economy won’t grow at 10 percent forever.”

—Michael J. Boskin, senior fellow,
Hoover Institution

Former U.S. ambassador Paula Dobriansky.
Former U.S. ambassador Paula Dobriansky says that despite recent global shifts in power, the United States is still “predominant militarily” and “indispensable to any collective security arrangement.” At left is Michael Portillo, former member of the British Parliament.
Charley Shimanski, Admiral Thad Allen and Charles Ries.
American Red Cross executive Charley Shimanski, RAND senior fellow and retired U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, and former U.S. ambassador Charles Ries share a light moment during an otherwise sobering conversation on catastrophe response.

“We need a long-term doctrine that has clear exit points for moving from response to recovery. The incident that keeps coming to mind is the transition from emergency shelter to long-term shelter after Hurricane Katrina.”

—Admiral Thad Allen, U.S. Coast Guard (retired)
and national incident commander,
Deepwater Horizon Unified Command

“We need the public to understand that making a difference in Haiti in 6 or even 12 months is like expecting the federal government to boil the ocean.”

—Charley Shimanski, regional chief executive officer,
American Red Cross

“The best thing that Americans can do for Haitians is to buy their products. Give them jobs that are sustainable. The country doesn’t like being a charity ward.”

—Charles Ries, executive vice president,
Clinton Bush Haiti Fund