They were there to talk to us about the gridlock in DC, the Black Swans (Gergen) or the Flash Points (Panetta) that the US continues to face (i.e. 9/11, ISIS, cyberterrorism, Putin and the Ukraine, etc.), the upcoming Supreme Court challenge on the Affordable Care Act, and the 2016 Presidential Election. Both called Vladmir Putin an extremist thug.
Gergen talked about VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Chaos and Ambiguity) that is being taught at West Point in relationship to our world today. Both felt that if Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush were elected, the US would be far better off than we are today. (Surprisingly, since both are either Dems or worked for a Dem.)
Gergen felt that the Supreme Court would take a contextual reading of the Affordable Care Act and uphold it. Gergen also commented that he knows Sylvia Matthews Burwell, the HHS Secretary, very well and she is extremely intelligent. He said she has a plan B if the court reverses the incentive dollars being paid to the 8 million people in the health care exchanges. Gergen said that the most significant issue that could derail Hillary's campaign for President is her husband. He reached back to his North Carolina roots to describe Bill's infidelity and said that, "he is a hard dog to keep on the porch." He also talked about the extremes in both the Democratic and Republican parties; and as long as the "wing nuts" are there, gridlock will continue.
Leon Panetta was an extremely passionate speaker about his service in government and our country. His message and delivery as to his love of our country gave me chills. Both he and David Gergen are so very much impressed with our children's generation and that our country will be so much better under their commitment, dedication and leadership of this country. Panetta spoke of the American Renaissance of the 21st century being in the hands of that same generation which will be great for our world.
The conference was well worth the time and it didn't hurt that it was in the 60's and 70's in Scottsdale, Arizona. Unfortunately, I had to leave Arizona and go to Texas, where it was in the teens with six inches of snow. And guess what--in Lubbock, Texas, they don't have plows. What a mess. More on that next week.