Director’s Report November 2013

Date: 
November 1, 2013 (All day)

Dear friends: 

The success of our representative government depends on the willingness of ordinary citizens to devote time, attention and effort to the public interest. At the Center on Congress, we work to help every American do that, by teaching the knowledge, skills and disposition needed to discern the common good and act to advance it. Below are highlights of the Center’s recent efforts to make the ongoing experiment of American democracy stronger. 

With warm regards,

Lee Hamilton

Director, Center on Congress at Indiana University

• The Center is co-hosting a Nov. 18-19 visit to IU Bloomington by Washington Post columnist and author David Ignatius. He has a busy schedule of talks with students (including those in the IU School of Journalism, the Hutton Honors College, the Wells Scholars Program and the Political and Civic Engagement Program), and meetings with faculty and administrators. Monday night, after delivering a lecture in Whittenberger Auditorium, he receives the Lee H. Hamilton Public Service Fellowship plaque. Ignatius is the third Hamilton Fellow to visit campus, following broadcast journalist and author Jim Lehrer, and David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent of The New York Times. Joining the Center in co-sponsoring Ignatius’ visit are the School of Journalism and the Institute for Advanced Study.

• Congress has been much in the news of late, with the budget imbroglio, partial government shutdown and other controversies inside the Beltway. Heightened public interest in the legislative branch likely played a role in the Center’s website (www.centeroncongress.org) attracting an all-time high number of visitors in October; the record-breaking “traffic count” was 54,441. We are seeing an increasing number of users connecting to our site via mobile devices; 10,757 users accessed our web resources via smart phones or tablets in October.

• The Center is pleased to welcome five new members to its Board of Advisors, a group that provides strategic counsel to Director Hamilton on the Center’s operations and assists in securing funds for the Center to pursue its mission of helping all Americans understand the role of Congress and promoting active and informed citizenship. The new Board members are:

• Lacy Johnson, a partner at Ice Miller LLP.

• Frank Julian, a partner at Sweeney Julian PC.

• Lisa McKinney, a partner at Bose McKinney & Evans LLP.

• Vanda McMurtry, a partner at Davis & Harman LLP.

• Bill Moreau, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP.

Hamilton confers regularly with members of the Board of Advisors, most recently at a Nov. 8 meeting in Indianapolis. A complete list of the group is at http://www.centeroncongress.org/board-advisors 

• While in Indianapolis Nov. 8, Hamilton addressed educators gathered for the annual conference of the Indiana Council for the Social Studies. “Citizenship is hard work,” Hamilton told the group. “In doing that work, we must be tenacious — because our problems are formidable — and modest, because of the sheer magnitude of the challenges. We learn that solutions come hard and usually step-by- step, not mile-by-mile.” More excerpts of his speech, “Citizenship in a Representative Democracy,” will be shared in coming weeks on the Center’s Facebook page. “Like” us on Facebook at “Center on Congress at Indiana University.”

• Hamilton’s other recent public appearances included addresses Nov. 12 at Marian University in Indianapolis (“The Challenges to American Foreign Policy”), and Nov. 7 at the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management in Washington (“A Few Suggestions on How To Deal with the Policy Maker”). On Oct. 29 in Bloomington, he was on a panel of experts discussing government surveillance, privacy and civil liberties, part of IU’s Statewide IT Conference, where IT professionals gather annually learn about new technologies and initiatives.

• The latest of Hamilton’s periodic commentaries on foreign policy for the Huffington Post was published Nov. 15. In “Iran Nuclear Talks Are Bound to Get Tougher,” Hamilton draws on his decades of experience in international affairs to analyze ongoing efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear program. http://huff.to/18AMu7F 

Hamilton’s twice-monthly columns about Congress and citizenship continue to be widely published by newspaper editors across the country. In “Time to Fish or Cut Bait on Tax Reform” (Nov. 6), he asked, “Can Congress tackle timidity and accomplish the task of reform?” (http://bit.ly/1asccLi) And in “How To Improve the Road Ahead (Oct. 23), he gave three pointers to his former Hill colleagues:

1. Congress must break its habit of governing by crisis.

2. Members need to remember that the essence of legislating is negotiation.

3. They need to recognize that every time Congress fails to assert itself, other institutions gain more power at its expense.

http://bit.ly/1idWZ5r

• For the past month, a committee appointed by IU President Michael A. McRobbie has been at work reviewing the activities of the Center and exploring ideas for the future. Chairing the committee is Bruce Cole, who was an IU faculty member, IU trustee, and chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Serving with Cole are Mike Sample, IU vice president for public affairs and government relations, and Russ Hanson, a political science professor and the department chair at IU Bloomington. http://bit.ly/15Yg71P