R& R Getaway Is on the Q.T.

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This fall looks to be particularly hectic in Washington, what with mammoth collisions coming over health care, climate change and such. So what better time to pull out that invitation you got to New York investment firm Forstmann Little's annual weekend conference Sept. 24-27 in beautiful Aspen, Colo., and think deep thoughts with about 200 of the rich and famous? It's all very hush-hush.

The air will be thick with private jets and the golden leaves should be about perfect as you join policy experts, various industry executives and top administration officials with time on their hands for discussions moderated, as usual, by the always prepared PBS star Charlie Rose. (South Carolina Luv Guv Mark Sanford, who has attended in the past, probably won't be there.)

Energy Secretary Steven Chu will kick things off Friday morning at the posh St. Regis Hotel with a discussion of "The Clean Energy Marketplace," according to our "internal draft" agenda. That will be followed by a foreign affairs roundtable with former secretary of state Colin Powell and (maybe, he's not confirmed) ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill.

Then it's lunch with former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, who'll doubtless talk about what a fine job he did for us in the Northwest Territories, also known as Talibanistan.

Exhausted attendees can spend the afternoon at a "golf clinic" with coach Jim Flick, or play a little tennis with champion Monica Seles, a repeat attendee, or get a tennis lesson from legendary coach Nick Bollettieri. (National Economic Council chief Larry Summers might want to work on his backhand, particularly handling high shots.)

The next morning, Summers will chat with Rose before a roundtable on cancer treatment, followed by another on "Redefining Capitalism." Then there's a luncheon discussion with Rahm Emanuel, who's helpfully identified as the White House chief of staff. (He's also not yet confirmed.) After that, there's an afternoon with more golf, tennis and cooking lessons, or you can go biking, horseback riding, fly-fishing or hiking in the mountains.

"All discussions are off the record," the agenda reminds. The agenda itself is marked "not for distribution." So mum's the word.


Speaking of agendas, the Senate is expected to vote, perhaps as early as this week, to break GOP holds on the nomination of law professor Cass Sunstein for the powerful job of overseeing federal regulatory policy at the Office of Management and Budget. Republican senators are concerned about his views on animal rights and gun control.

Buzz is that the votes are probably there to overcome GOP holds and to confirm him.


Deborah Hersman, the new chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, is wasting no time cracking the whip on agency staff members. At her official swearing-in ceremony Tuesday, she announced a policy that prohibits NTSB employees from texting or using cellphones during work-related driving. Employees were also told not to use government-issued devices to talk or text during non-work driving, our colleague Sholnn Freeman reports.

"Think of it as your very own sterile cockpit rule," Hersman said, referring to an oft-ignored regulation that commercial airline pilots limit personal chatter while flying. No talk? No text? No tweet? Not even a little peep?


Don't forget: Tonight's the night for the "40th Anniversary of the Great First of September Revolution" reception. This would be our new ally Libya's revolution, which brought the quirky Loop Favorite Moammar Gaddafi, a one-man fashion show, to power. Ambassador Ali Suleiman Aujali is holding the fete at the Willard.

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