THE SENIOR MEN'S CLUB OF NEW CANAAN
Minutes of the Regular Meeting of September 17, 2004
President Jack Murray opened the business meeting at 10:00 on gray Friday, with rain in the offing. There were 206 attendees, including new member Larry Hirsch and guests David Bentley, Loel Baldwin, Dave Jennings, John Dodd, and Alan and Martha Fleischer. All were warmly welcomed. Total membership is 524. VP Pete Stair reminded us that today's talk would be off the record: no recording devices, and questions from members only.
Membership Concerns and Announcements: Dick DePatie noted the passing of Marshall Snierson. Lew Bowman is at Norwalk hospital following surgery, but Jim Bridgeman is once again in attendance. The new directory is in the mail, and our Directors will meet October 1st.
Activities: Bridge rolls on. Chess did not report, because Chairman Andrew Molenaar, noted transcontinental bicyclist, is missing. Next week Costa Brava will entertain the 4F's, whose fearless leader Eric Petschek seeks a successor. Golf has two more outings: the 27th at Ridgefield and a finale Octobers 6th at NCCC. The racquetball team did not report, but tennis is still going strong. Trailblazers will hike Larkin State Park on October 20th. And finally, Skyblazers are reworking their meeting schedule.
Couth: Still room for UCONN vs Army football Sep. 25th in East Hartford, with dinner at Mory's to follow. On Oct. 19th we're sold out for NYC dinner at Carmine's, followed by tickets to The Producers. Check-in is at 7:45 for the CIA trip Nov. 13th. And on Dec. 15th the spectacular Christmas display at the NY Botannical Gardens will be a Couth highlight for the year.
Resident Humorist: Stephen Wise told of Osama Bin Laden's entry to paradise. Expecting 70 joyful virgins, he is greeted instead by 70 famous and angry Virginians.
Speaker: VP Pete Stair introduced Ari Fleischer, White House Press Secretary to President Bush from 2001 to 2003. Ari attended Middlebury College and said he was one of very few to enter Vermont as a liberal Democrat and come out a conservative Republican. His 20 years of government service took him southward, to Washington and later to Texas to work for then governor Bush. Ari described the Press Secretary's job as both the most exciting and the hardest he could imagine. His days started at 5:00 AM, and he spent 2 to 4 hours every day with the President, listening to him and to his advisors. He traveled the world and met such luminaries as Messrs Putin and Blair, the Pope (twice) and Joe Torre. Mr. Fleischer described the President's function as painting boldly and clearly the big picture for America. Subtleties are the work of staff, and the Press Secretary must convey both to an extremely clever, cynical and combative press corps.
Clearly, both he and the President feel that terrorism is a major and vital threat, a real war, which festered unanswered for a long time. However, Ari is optimistic that we are gaining, with ever more democracies in the world, with significant liberalization in Afghanistan, and with hope for the stabilization of Iraq region by region. On the domestic front Ari predicts a fairly close election and says it will not be won by negative campaigning. He finds the present mudslinging about Vietnam era service a useless dredging of irrelevancies from the past, whereas the need is for positive approaches to the present and future.
In starting his talk, Mr. Fleischer told the SMCers how smart and generous and patriotic they were, definitely a preferred audience to the White House Press Corps. Faced with such commentary, it is small wonder that we sent him on his way with rousing applause and an invitation to return.
Peter Schurman - Assistant Secretary