I’ve had another one of those days where more than once I’ve asked myself why on Earth anyone would want to be the President of the United States, or the Chancellor of Germany, or any of the leaders traveling to Camp David for the G8 meetings this weekend.
I say this, while sitting in a coach-class seat on one of those tiny commercial planes en route to Chicago for the NATO summit.
I hate tiny planes so of course that makes me realize that Air Force One would be a fun plane to be able to borrow four years at a time.
I’ve been aboard – but only in the press area.
Not that comfortable
It’s about as far back as you’re allowed to go, the seats aren’t all that comfortable, and no, it doesn’t look anything like it did in the movie with Harrison Ford.
Still they use real silverware, the food is good and everything has the seal of the President on it, even the tiny little bottles of hot sauce and packets of M&M candies.
I imagine the President’s section is a big upgrade. Still I just can’t imagine that any amount of luxury would be worth the stress.
Those were my thoughts as I watched the staged and always predictable shots from the meeting. The leaders walk up one at a time, exchange niceties with the host, shake hands, sit for dinner and later pose for a photo.
It doesn’t matter who is there, the family photo as it’s called just always looks awkward.
If you remember how it felt to be in High School and have to walk into a crowded class room late which of course meant the teacher stopped talking, it looks like that.
I’ve noticed during the walk, they almost always point out something about the scenery as if trying to say to the gathered throng of media, “hey look over there.”
It never works, they stand for as long as it seems they can stand it and then it’s back to the closed-door meetings.
They spend almost all of their time out of sight. I imagine they are doing more than discussing the contents of the final statement they’ll put out at the end of the meeting.
Or I should say, I hope they are doing more. The communique – as its called, almost never says anything. While I do think it would take a lot of time to craft something that uses so many words and says absolutely nothing, nine hours with that much staff around seems to be a stretch.
Eurozone tops the agenda
For example the statement on the economy, I won’t bore you with the language, but the basics Greece should stay in the eurozone and honors its commitments, governments should stimulate the economy and at the same time simultaneously pay down their debt.
Oh and trade is good, small business should be encouraged and intellectual property protected.
These eight leaders represent eight of the world’s largest economies, In the midst of what seems to be a never ending crisis and constant talk about another recession or worse, you can only hope they have more specific ideas that they just don’t think we are ready to hear yet.
I can’t tell you if that is true.
The only information we get about what happens inside is from senior aides. They come out to talk to the media, and no matter what question is asked, more general answers.
Economic growth is good, too much debt is bad, and every country is different. Thanks, so the sky is blue, the earth is round and once again I’m wondering why I bother to cover these summits.
The bigger question is why the leaders keep going to them. I have to assume that they feel they are worth the time and travel.
That they feel they find they actually get something out of it, come to agreements, come up with ideas, and move history.
This gets me back to my original point about why on earth they want their jobs.
Imagine what it must be like to be in that room. To look around and think, this is it, it is in large part, up to us.
If we make the wrong decision, millions of people will honestly suffer. Children will go hungry, parents will get desperate, and their people will forever remember them as failures.
No pressure. I can only believe that the people sitting in that room believe they are uniquely qualified to handle this moment in history.
Are they? I don’t know yet, I only saw a photo op and that told me nothing.