Dear Council Leaders, Supporters, and Friends:
“I alone can fix it” (Trump) and “The buck stops here” (Truman) are two distinct approaches to presidential responsibility and leadership – and the difference has nothing to do with partisanship.
President Trump last month embraced some buck-stopping – at least initially – when he told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before TV cameras in the Oval Office: “I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck….I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.”
Tonight, 18 days into the partial (but punishing) government shutdown, Trump will deliver a defining televised address from that same office to make the case for his border wall to the nation. Some argue that news networks should not broadcast the speech. I believe that they should do so, and provide fair time for a Democratic response.
It is up to citizens to arm themselves with facts, a critical responsibility on which a healthy democracy rests, and one which has become immeasurably difficult in recent years. I heard this point underscored repeatedly at the Santa Fe Council on International Relations’ excellent Journalism Under Fire conference last month.
The Washington Post’s Daily 202 newsletter reports that the paper’s Fact-Checker Team has “documented 7,645 false or misleading claims made by Trump since taking office. Of those, 1,130 were about immigration. Claims about foreign policy and trade tied for second, with 822 claims, followed by claims about the economy (768).”
It is up to World Affairs Councils to engage the public in discussions grounded in facts on all these issues. Below, we highlight the network’s convening power, including controversial figures, that allow the people in communities we serve to increase their knowledge, test ideas, and make sound decisions. Our work has never been more relevant and vital.
Because your calendars fill quickly, I want to highlight several key dates:
· Jan. 24 – WACA’s monthly Cover to Cover conference call series with prominent authors begins its sixth year with Francis Fukuyama on Identity
· Jan. 24 – WACA breakfast at the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting
· April 26-27 – The Carlos and Malú Alvarez 2018 Academic WorldQuest National Competition in Washington, DC
· June 13-15 – Semi-Annual Council Leadership Meeting and WACA Board Meeting hosted by International Relations Council in Kansas City, MO
· Nov. 6-8 - WACA 2019 National Conference at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC
And, again, don’t forget to watch tonight’s important broadcast at 9:00 pm ET. What happens at our southern border has repercussions everywhere.
Best wishes for the new year,