I’m here at the Clinton Global Initiative by invitation and am looking forward to smelling John McCain’s flop sweat in person. The room is packed and anticipatory. Palin is here too as is Sugar Momma though we couldn’t see them here in the hall very well. Guess they were here for the cameras only.

More about CGI later but I agree with my friend Josh Levy 100% that this isn’t an easily bloggable conference and that CGI made it difficult for me to support a shared aim to let you know about some of the incredible people, projects and charities here. Unless the real goal here is to promote Bill Clinton & friends. This is a heavily branded conference — even the microphones have logos and there are CGI silk scarves for ladies and ties for guys. I’m surprised they didn’t wrap the entire hotel like a bus ad to display Bill Clinton’s classic knuckle and pout urging you to care more about Africa. Oh — along with CGI’s logo of course.

I did get to meet Kenyan Pundit at the hotel bar here though who’s amazing – check out what she’s up to at Ushahidi.com which means “testimony”. I’ve got some video with her for you and will upload it asap.

On Good Morning America, Clinton actually said that John McCain’s not afraid because he wanted more debates. He said it twice. You can watch the video here. I understand that Clinton had to face the man in person this am but I don’t understand defending the opposition while managing a belated jab at the person you’ve pledged to support. Look — even George Will is dissing McCain. No Republican would have pulled a punch at this moment, if the tables were turned. Why would Clinton?!? This was a moment to applaud Obama for his great quote that a president needs to be able to do more than one thing at a time which would be meaningful from a former president, right?

McCain is using the association with Clinton to imply that he is “bi-partisan” and to imply tacit support from Bill Clinton. Clinton backed that up with his statement this am. Here in the room at CGI, eyes are rolling and the audience is stiff with resistance to McCain’s remarks. Quoting a friend: the audience was half-hearted clapping and full-hearted eye-rolling. Yet he just got a standing O at the end — Confusing! Who are these people?

It’s clear that they have little understanding of how the communications landscape has changed due to innovations in mobile/online technology (i.e. Web 2.0 & social media) and how to help NGOs reach out to enlist the support of millions of people around the world. No one involved that I’ve spoken to appears to be following or even aware of the realtime, lively twitter feed on #CGI08.

I’m disappointed in the Clinton Global Initiative’s approach to bloggers, the internet, open discourse and access to NGOs for the media. I’m also deeply disappointed and baffled by Bill Clinton’s behavior this morning. Is he sincere in his support for Obama. Or not.

CGI is doing some great things and really has changed international & corporate philanthropy. I applaud that. 5 billion for wind power around the world is a big deal for example. I’d urge CGI to re-consider how they involve the internets and bloggers in their work.

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