Sunday, September 5, 2010

Women's Where

Just in time for the opening of Washington’s political season, Cabela’s sale catalog came. Now don’t get me wrong. I do not plan to track, stalk, shoot, kill, gut, skin, stuff, and display any the multitude of Asia policy talking heads who will promote themselves over the next few months. Even if it is open season…

Not only are there the mid-term elections, but the presidential campaign for 2012 is also beginning. The policy wonks need to get on the radar fast and the more sound bites and platitudes they offer the better. Expect a rush of turgid op-eds, fatuous interviews, and redundant programs this fall that will all showcase the, er, talents of Washington’s Asia policy professionals. There will be a raft of vanity reports written primarily by interns (these used be girls but now they tend to be male South Asians) masquerading as policy proscriptions.

Sadly, the press follows along. For example, Washington’s Japan press corps pursued Michael Green “a Japan expert and former senior director for Asian affairs on the National Security Council (NSC) at the White House,” after his August 31st presentation at the Heritage Foundation for a quote. Green told an eager press gaggle (in both English and Japanese) that Ichiro Ozawa, former secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, who is now running in the DPJ presidential election is “anti-American” and that Ozawa’s “remarks made since last year have caused severe damage to the Japan-US relationship."

Although the White House does not suggest Green as a source on Obama Asia policy, he was quoted as saying: "The U.S. administration reached out to him (Ozawa, believing he was an influential political figure), but that only made matters worse. [The US Administration] does not think he will win, but it is nervous about what impact the result of the election will have on [US-Japan relations]."

Enough about the men who will benefit from all this and let’s get back to Cabela. What caught my eye was the leafy-wear camouflage jacket and pants suit on sale for half price--$39.99! That is definitely a must-have and good price point (as few are hired full time) for many of the women in Washington who work on Asia issues.

It is the perfect moderator’s suit. You can actually look like the potted plant, the ornament, the after-thought that you have been selected to be. Introduce the men, be gracious, and help assure the program organizers that women were included. Then you can blend back into the fake foliage on stage.

One problem I observe the upcoming meeting on Asia this fall is no women have invited to participate, even as moderators. For example, NBR’s release of its annual Strategic Asia report not only does again not have any women authors but no women speakers. Senator Daniel Inouye’s US-Japan Council conference, Shaping the Future of U.S.-Japan Relations, to encourage interest in the Japan-American community in helping the Japanese government lobby in the U.S. only has women speaking on a panel ghetto about Women in the Workplace & Leadership.

There are many more examples, but why bother to list them. You will get the emails. My advice is if they don’t serve lunch for free, don’t go.

Anyway, Cabela’s leafy-wear suit with “outline shattering Silent Leaf construction” deal does not come with head camouflage. Here is an area where the female moderator can personalize, accessorize. I think a nice floral headpiece would be a nice touch.

I almost took advantage of the sale, however, it occurred to me that after 20 years of working Japan policy issues complete with having authored and advised on all sorts of legislation, I have never once been invited to participate in a program or even moderate. I don’t need a gillie suit; I am invisible all by myself.

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