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I first met Bill and Hillary Clinton at the New York Hilton when Bill was running for president for the first time in 1992.  I liked him but I was more impressed with her.  He went on to be president, and she overcame charges of carpet-bagging to become New York’s senator.

I opposed Hillary when she ran for president, supporting instead Barack Obama two years before the election.  This was dangerous in New York, as Hillary’s supporters were powerful and demanded loyalty.  

Barack went on to be president, and the Hillary issue was resolved by her becoming our incredible Secretary of State, replacing the sadly-misplaced Condoleezza Rice.

Jimmy Carter, who I admire, went on to build the Carter Center after leaving office.  His work out of office far surpasses the work he did from Washington.  

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In my travels around the world, I see the influence of the Carter Center everywhere. Waging peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope. From the Dominican Republic to countries as diverse as El Salvador, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Peru, Sri Lanka, and Togo.

Bill created his own out-of-office effort, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).  CGI is now in its fifth year, and its annual meeting is unfolding here in New York City this week.

What an incredible human being Bill Clinton is.  Cool, intelligent, probing.

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Copyright 2009 The Clinton Global Initiative.  Used with permission.

Bill Clinton is much on my mind.  Imaging how our American journalist captives in North Korea felt when he came to rescue them.  Watching him on David Letterman.  Walking by his office in Harlem.

President Barack Obama spoke at both the Clinton Global Initiative and the United Nations this week.  His uplifting speech at CGI is on YouTube.

I attended Bill’s CGI forum on Northern Ireland last night at the New York Sheraton. On "The most successful peace process in the world."  

The peace process used in Northern Ireland is now the model for countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sri Lanka from where I was reporting recently.

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Copyright 2009 The Clinton Global Initiative.  Used with permission.

Wearing a dark suit, bright yellow tie, with white shirt and hair and his reading glasses, Bill played host to introducing the Northern Irish players to his international audience - and pushing to create economic investment in that now-peaceful nation.

Shaking hands with him after the symposium, before the U2 concert, I was struck once again at just how amazingly brilliant, humble, and important this man is.

I also met Declam Kelly, the American Irish Fund leader who was appointed U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland by President Obama in Washington just last week.  Declam and I agreed to discuss the possibility of locating the global office of the organization I founded, Orphans International Worldwide, in Dublin.

Like Davos, the Clinton Global Initiative is one of the important and powerful business meetings in the world, with dozens of heads of state, and the heads of the world’s largest companies and most influential NGOs.

"In the midst of a global financial crisis, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that more people are attending this meeting than ever before," Bill said in his opening speech.

"Since 2005, it has become clear that CGI has found an effective model for addressing challenges around the world.  Our members have made more than 1,400 commitments affecting more than 200 million people around the world," Bill added.

Having made 18 trips to Haiti over the last 10 years, working with Haitian partners to help that nation's orphans, I am acutely aware of the despair found in this poorest nation of the Western Hemisphere.  

The appointment of Bill Clinton to help mediate the issues and focus development on this nation only three hours south of New York is brilliant.  

My friends in Haiti and the Diaspora are jaded after so many broken promises, but I see them more hopeful about Bill’s presence than ever before.

I am pleased that the U.S. has turned away from the Bush years of cowboy diplomacy and unilateral, often illegal invasions of sovereign nations to protect corporate interests.  

From Jimmy Carter, through Bill Clinton, and now with Barack Obama, the world can now see that America is a decent nation of caring people who are willing to help the world – when they are able to see its needs.  

My own stories are an attempt in The Daily Kos and Huffington Post to help my neighbors better understand this world.

Bill Clinton gets it all intuitively. In doing so, he has become the new elder statesman of America.  From Haiti to Northern Ireland, he is warmly welcomed.  

He is a thought leader and global citizen extraordinary.

Originally posted to Thought Leaders & Global Citizens on Thu Sep 24, 2009 at 01:35 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Jimmy Carter is Elder Statesman to the World (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    myboo, MRA NY

    Clinton is great, but let's keep giving credit to Carter as long as he is with us.  Then Clinton can inherit his mantle.

    Carter effectively redefined the role of ex-presidents, for the better.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Thu Sep 24, 2009 at 01:37:34 PM PDT

  •  Carter (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pellice, myboo, wide eyed lib

    Carter gets undeserved low marks for his presidency.  The inflation he inherited was the price paid for the Vietnam War that he had nothing to do with.  The Iran hostage situation was the result of our violent installation of the tyrannical shah many years before he was in office.  As is very evident, no president since Jimmy has any success in Iran.

    As for moral leadership--he defines the ideal.  That our congress was not ready to be moral is also still the present condition.  In a perfect world, Carter would be the leader.  In an imperfect world, Carter is so very needed.  He is not better as an ex president--he is a better person than we deserved.

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