A month of meetings

Consider my last post to be the beginning of a perfect record for September.

Way back when I started this blog, I promised to use it as a medium for reporting on the many meetings, some of them interesting, that we have as an editorial board and never get around to writing about. The idea was not only to disseminate stuff worth knowing, but to lower that ol’ drawbridge to the ivory tower I keep talking about. You know, if someone is talking to us and helping shape our world view, readers should know about it. Transparency.

But as I quickly discovered, you can either have interesting meetings or write about them all in detail — a 24-hour day isn’t enough for doing both. I’ve tried ever since then to, at the very least, get a paragraph or so in about each meeting. I have failed, largely because it’s not that much easier to post something short. Often, it’s harder — if you’re trying to represent the session in a comprehensive, yet brief, way. The old saw about not having time to write a shorter letter has much truth in it. You have to go through all your notes and recordings and video to make sure you don’t miss something — which takes longer than the meeting itself, and which is hard to justify to your overworked colleagues if it isn’t going to help the greater cause of filling the editorial pages.

So here’s what I’m going to try to do: I’m going to say something about every meeting in September, even if it’s just something off the top of my head — even if it’s just the fact that we MET. Anything else I say about each of those meetings will be suggested by your comments — your expressed interest, or lack thereof.

And to show that I am indeed serious about this, here is a brief capsule on each face-to-face contact I had (and for which I find evidence to jog my memory) during the month of August. This is made a lot easier by the fact that I was off and at the beach through Aug. 6, then kept my calendar free of extraordinary meetings that whole next week so I could catch up. And so we begin at almost mid-month:

  • Monday, Aug. 13: John McCain. Well, you’ve already read about this, and if you were so inclined, you even watched video clips. Aside from the meeting I reported previously, I went to hear him speak to my Rotary Club that day, but really didn’t have much to add from that, except it was the biggest crowd I remember at Rotary. (Help me out — any Rotarians who were there remember a bigger one?)
  • Tuesday, Aug. 14: Lunch at the Capital City Club with Teresa Wells, S.C. communications director for John Edwards. Teresa and I had a few sensitive issues to talk out — well, really, just one. She was very professional, and it was very amiable, and we left with her determined to get me back together with her candidate, and me open to such an eventuality. Neither of us changed the others’ mind, but it was — for me, at least — a pleasant meeting. To add a little substance to this, Teresa talked about why she went to work for Edwards and believes he should be the nominee and president. She was particularly impressed by a speech he delivered to the DNC Winter Meeting in Washington back in February. At my request, after lunch she sent me links to video and text of his remarks, which I now finally get around to sharing with you. Beyond that, there’s not much to share with you. Teresa wanted the meeting to be low-key, so I left most of it off-the-record and didn’t rush to write anything about.
  • On the way back to the office from lunch that same day, I stopped at the convention center to shoot a little video of Rudy, which you’ve seen.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 15, we met Sam Brownback, about which you’ve also read, and seen video, and heard audio. I felt like I got a lot out of this meeting — enough that I told my colleagues I wanted to step up the schedule of getting in other candidates we haven’t me before.
  • Tuesday, August 21. I was the only member of the editorial board to sit down with Dr. Richard Carmona, the former surgeon general, who was here on behalf of a group trying to raise awareness of issues relating to chronic disease. Increasingly, as we approach an election year with a smaller-than-ever editorial staff, requests for meetings such as this will either be turned down, or only one of us will be there. A reporter also sat in this time, so I was not entirely alone. I posted these clips from the session.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 22. All of the associate editors and I sat down with Nick Kremydas of the S.C. Realtors Association. Why? Because he’s a mover and a shaker on some hot S.C. issues bearing upon our communities and how they develop, taxation, the relationships between state and local government, etc. We had been impressed when we met with him a year earlier by his grasp of issues, and thought he had a fairly ambitious idea of his role and that of his employers. He’s a man of respect. So we met with him for the same reasons Don Vito met with Solozzo, you might say. The main topic this time was the association’s rather creative proposal for an alternative to impact fees. There was some brief, off-the-record discussion of the column Cindi had written about him the year before. Below you find a rough, unedited clip from the meeting (I started to put together a highlights clip, but just didn’t have the hour or more that would have taken today; this way, you can see once again just how boring unfiltered information can be.)


  • That same afternoon, I received Her Majesty’s Consul General, Martin Rickerd, in my office. Also, in my book, a man of respect — but not one that everybody on the board needs to know or talk to. Mike Fitts might have sat in normally, but he was so backed up from the Kremydas meeting that it was pretty much out of the question. I probably would have said no myself (and colleagues who advise my on time management would say I should have refused), but I’m such an anglophile. (I had wanted to fly a Union Jack along with the U.S. flag, but my wife, who is Irish, wouldn’t have it.)
  • Thursday, Aug. 23. Mike and I had lunch with Zac Wright of Hillary Clinton’s campaign (that’s Zac atWrightzac3
    right; I shot him with my phone at the Capital City Club). This was a get-acquainted sort of meeting, ostensibly to start talking about dates when the candidate might come in for something more formal. I had a high old time, and Mike was sort of bored, because it turns out that Zac is from Martin, Tenn., which was on the outer edge of the coverage area for which I was responsible as Gibson County Bureau Chief of The Jackson Sun back in the late 1970s. Although we were a generation out of sync (he worked for Harold Ford Jr.; I had written about his daddy), we knew a lot of people in common, and swapped some good stories. Zac and I plan to get together briefly tomorrow for coffee and talk old times some more. Also, hopefully, he’ll know more about getting Mrs. Clinton in for a meeting.
  • Monday, Aug. 27. Breakfast with Zeke Stokes (Cap City Club, sort of my default location). This had come out of one of those usual "we should get together and catch up" exchanges from when he wrote that letter to defend Mr. Edwards from my meanness. That reminds me — Zeke said it would be OK to publish a memo he had sent Cindi Scoppe re ethics, based on his own scrape with the authorities in that area. I need to go find that and put it up. Anyway, this meeting was probably the impetus for Zeke sending me this heads-up, which I think got him into some minor trouble. Sorry about that, guy.
  • That same day, Joe Wilson spoke to my Rotary. I made some notes, but not about anything substantial. I was just trying to keep up, by scribbling notes on a handout left on the table, with Joe’s desperate attempt to recognize everybody in the room that he thought he should recognize, which is a chore with the biggest Rotary in the state. If I find the notes, and they seem worth it, I’ll post them.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 28. Having requested an edit board meeting ASAP, Jon Ozmint came in that very day. I posted about that already.

On Thursday the 30th, I would have dropped by a Mitt Romney event at Adluh Flour, and the McCain official HQ opening, but I was busy (all I missed at the McCain thing was the unveiling of this video). I had taken the day off to: Pick up my wife at the train station in the wee hours, and drive to Savannah and back for a follow-up appointment with my surgeon down there.

Anyway, as I said — I’ll do better this month. So far, I’m at 100 percent.

2 thoughts on “A month of meetings

  1. Randy E

    with the vacations on the sand, dining at the CCC and writing an article each week where do you find time to maintain a blog?
    Kidding aside, what is a typical day like for you?

  2. Brad Warthen

    Lousy. In fact, not a day goes by that I don’t consider chucking the blog entirely, but I simply don’t have time for it. No sane person with even rudimentary time-management skills would ever start one.

    But wait… I’m not supposed to be frank about such things. I’ve always tried to hold to the ethic that Hemingway wrote of in The Sun Also Rises:

        "Come on down-stairs and have a drink."
        "Aren’t you working?"
        "No," I said. We went down the stairs to the café on the ground floor. I had discovered that was the best way to get rid of friends. Once you had a drink all you had to say was: "Well, I’ve got to get back and get off some cables," and it was done. It is very important to discover graceful exits like that in the newspaper business, where it is such an important part of the ethics that you should never seem to be working. Anyway, we went down-stairs to the bar and had a whiskey and soda. Cohn looked at the bottles in bins around the wall. "This is a good place," he said.
        "There’s a lot of liquor," I agreed.
        "Listen, Jake," he leaned forward on the bar. "Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?"
        "Yes, every once in a while."
        "Do you know that in about thirty-five years more we’ll be dead?"
        "What the hell, Robert," I said. "What the hell."
        "I’m serious."
        "It’s one thing I don’t worry about," I said.
        "You ought to."

    So I hope you’ll excuse me now, but I have to go get off some cables…

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