At CGI, Romney and Obama Will Have A Close Call

Both Republican presidential nomineeMitt Romney and President Barack Obama are scheduled to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative on Sept. 25. In fact, they are appearing only hour apart in the same ballroom in the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan.

Barak Obama, Mitt Romney
Getty Images Composite
Barak Obama, Mitt Romney

Until the Presidential debates begin next month, this is probably the closest the two men will come to actually meeting face to face.

It's not known exactly what they're going to talk about, but the theme of this year’s conference is decidedly non-political. In fact, it's downright world-builder-y: "Designing for Impact."

“How can we design our world to create more opportunity and more equality? How are we designing our lives, our environments, and the global systems we employ in order to impact the challenges at hand?” the conference’s website asks.

Some might object that one of the deep problems with the world is the attempt to design lives, environments and global systems rather than let them evolve in undirected ways. Indeed, many of the panels seem to assume a preference for the designing hand rather than an invisible hand. (More:A Wal-Mart in Libya?)

That grumble aside, there’s a lot of financial, political and intellectual firepower lined up for this thing. Besides Romney and Obama, the new leaders of Libya and Egypt will be attending. With all the recent turmoil in the Middle East, it should be fascinating to hear what they have to say.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is also on the docket, although I couldn’t find what panel he’s booked for. There’s an event by Goldman’s 10,000 Women program on turning oppression into opportunity for women, which I suspect is less sinister than it sounds. But apparently that’s not Blankfein’s thing.

Glancing through the panels and speakers, I’ve detected a decidedly upbeat note to the entire enterprise. It’s about finding solutions. (More:Hillary Clinton: Raise Taxes on the Rich Everywhere)

Or, sorry, “designing” solutions. There’s not one doomsayer like Nicholas “Black Swan” Taleb on the agenda. Might be a relief from the usual chatter about fiscal cliffs, hard landings, cans kicked, andEurope swallowing itself whole.

This should be, at least, a good test of the proposition of whether gathering the world’s luminaries can contribute any kind of remedies to the many maladies inflicting the world. I promise to attempt to keep an open mind, even if I suspect I'll sniff out some snake oil among the salves.

CGI 2012

  • Barak Obama, Mitt Romney

    It's not known exactly what the presidential candidates will talk about, but the theme of this year’s conference is decidedly non-political. In fact, it's downright world-builder-y: "Designing for Impact."

  • Former US President Bill Clinton during the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in September 2008 in New York.

    Not long ago, most American companies were urged by the U.S. government to avoid doing business with Libya. It was a pariah state, a sponsor of terrorism, a sworn enemy of the West. But former President Bill Clinton asked the chief executive of Wal-Mart if he would open a store in Libya.

  • Hillary Clinton

    Free-market types will urge freer markets, even when these take the form of the kind of corrupt privatization that gave rise to Russia's oligarchs. And the Obama administration, well, it thinks the wealthy need to be taxed more — everywhere.

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