Ed and I recently were in Washington D.C. to attend a symposium put on every other year for the President's Circle of Notre Dame University, Ed's alma mater. This year the symposium was titled Insight & Outlook on National and Global Affairs--and that it certainly was. Our keynote speakers were none other than Vice President Joe Biden and, in alphabetical order, Adel A. Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States; General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Ron Dermer, Israeli Ambassador to the United States; Ebrahim Moosa, Professor of Islamic Studies, Notre Dame University; Admiral Michael S. Rogers, USN Commander, U.S. Cyber Command, Director, National Security Agency, Chief, Central Security Service; and Gerald F. Seib, Washington Bureau Chief, Wall Street Journal. Journalist Panel Participants were Mark Shields, Political Analyst, PBS Newshour and Syndicated Columist; Robert Costa, National Political Writer, The Washington Post; Carolyn Ryan, Washingon Bureau Chief, The New York Times.
Ed and I were lucky to sit next to Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer (picture) at the dinner held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, a glorious restored 78,810 square foot former Masonic Temple, which recognizes and shares the contributions made by women of all eras and places. Ambassador Dermer was born and raised in Miami Beach, Florida, and was educated mostly in the United States and Oxford University. Before being named Ambassador to the U.S., he served as Senior Advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Dermer also thinks the proposed treaty with Iran to limit its nuclear weapons is a bad deal for Israel and for the world. He is now an Israeli citizen.
Another highlight of the conference was the kick off activity of a cruise along the Potomac to George Washington's Mount Vernon, where we had dinner. We also had lunch at the Newseum, an extremely interesting museum dedicated to the news.
Ed and I arrived in Washington a day early in time for the Cherry Blossom festival. This was the only time the conference was held at the same time as the festival, and we spent a glorious afternoon strolling along the Potomac surrounded by the beautiful blossoms. We finished this day with a happy hour toast at the Williard Hotel across from the White House, where many other toasts were made by prior President Grant.
Also staying at our hotel (the Ritz Carlton) was the new Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, who was in town for his inaugural meetings at the White House. Talk about security; we almost ran out of time retrieving our luggage to check out.