A LIGHTER, SUMMERY SIDE OF PUBLIC DIPLOMACY.
While I was vacationing, my inbox filled with PD-related bites. Andy Valvur of Igor International forwarded to me this video of Condoleezza Rice at the WHCA dinner, getting roasted by Cedric the Entertainer. It's good to see the Secretary of State relaxed and laughing--and it's also good to see actual humor at a WHCA dinner rather than thinly disguised bile.
Tyler Davidson at Meetings Media sent word that Cal Ripken is now working for State as a "special sports envoy." (Video here, text here.) The legendary Orioles iron man can be expected to connect nicely with audiences in East Asia and Latin America, where baseball and its heroes carry a lot of weight. His work ethic and self-deprecating view of himself are exactly what the U.S. should hope to project abroad, so good call by Undersecretary Hughes.
Speaking of baseball, East Asia and iron men, Nolan Ryan is now pitching for the U.S. Meat Export Federation to revive sales of U.S. beef in a mad-cow-wary Japan. Ryan, who does a little ranching himself, "has his picture in the meat aisles at major [Japanese] grocery stores under the slogan 'Beef makes you strong!'" according to Thursday's Wall Street Journal. The Hall of Fame pitcher is well-known in Japan and as good a fit for pitching U.S. beef as Ripken is for pitching U.S. values.
Finally, one of my favorite bands, Los Angeles's Ozomatli, has been touring on State's behalf and performed in Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt in July. This is a much gutsier call by State and presumably by Karen Hughes; although Ozomatli exemplifies L.A.'s multicultural melting pot and plays in well-known Latin, African and American musical styles, some of their lyrics talk about American racism and fears of a coming race war.
But if you want to give people an honest idea of what America is about, along with a positive message of peace and a great vibe, I can't think of a better group to send abroad. See this video of their mellow "After Party" here.