Ambassador Ira Shapiro is one of Washington's best-liked and most respected public servants. He was one of the premier U.S. trade negotiators in the Clinton Administration during what is generally regarded as the most productive period of American trade policy and negotiation. He helped complete the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Uruguay Round, the global trade agreement that created the World Trade Organization and established today's global trade rules, and then went on to negotiate solutions to some of the most contentious trade disputes between the United States and Japan and Canada.  Through his articles, speeches and interviews, Ira has become a leading voice on the central role that the Senate must play in breaking the gridlock in Washington, and not coincidentally, the first commentator to signal the beginning of the Senate’s return to respectability.

Ira is the author of the critically-acclaimed book, The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis. His first book, The Last Great Senate has been described as a "tour de force" (Washington Post); compared to "Profiles in Courage" for this generation of leaders (Philadelphia Inquirer); and called a "historically and politically artistic work of great brilliance" (Richard A, Baker, Senate Historian Emeritus). His speeches reflect his passion for politics and government, his experience in the Senate, the Clinton White House and political campaigns and the "honesty and humor" once described as his stock in trade.

SPEAKER TOPICS
ABOUT Ambassador Ira Shapiro   (+/-)

Trusted Counsel to America’s Most Distinguished Leaders

Ira came to Washington to work in the U.S. Senate in 1975, and served in senior staff positions for 12 years with some of the most distinguished senators of the era----Gaylord Nelson, Abraham Ribicoff, Tom Eagleton and Robert Byrd, before completing his Senate time as Jay Rockefeller's chief of staff. While in the Senate, he participated in a series of major legislative accomplishments, ranging from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to the Senate Code of Ethics to the agreement that funded the Washington Metrorail system.

Campaign Veteran Elevating the Level of Political Discourse

A veteran of several presidential campaigns, Ira helped Bill Clinton and Al Gore select their vice presidential running mates. In 2001-2002, he ran for Congress in Maryland, in what proved to be the most visible House campaign in the country. Although ultimately falling short, Ira was praised in the local press for running a "great campaign" and providing "the antidote to cynicism" that he had promised to deliver.

+/-

SPEAKER TOPIC DESCRIPTIONS    (+/-)

The Last Great Senate----and How We Restore It

Ira's basic book talk describes the "great Senate" of the 1960's and 1970's; what distinguished it from the previous Senates; its downward spiral since 1980. The talk is filled with stories that bring to life the personalities, accomplishments and humor of the men who made up the great Senate---among them, Ted Kennedy, Howard Baker, Robert Byrd, Hubert Humphrey, Ed Muskie, Jacob Javits and Henry "Scoop" Jackson, as they work to enact civil rights legislation, end the Vietnam War, hold Richard Nixon accountable for Watergate, and enact a raft of progressive legislation. It is also a hard-hitting critique of the Republican move to the right which undermined the collegiality and bipartisanship and transformed the Senate into the polarized, paralyzed and dysfunctional institution that it is today. Acknowledging that it is easier to be pessimistic than optimistic, Ira concludes with a set of ideas that could restore the Senate, if not to greatness, than at least to respectability.

Political Dysfunction and the Global Economy

Throughout the world, and particularly in the advanced economies, governments are straining to make effective policy under the pressures of globalization and technological and demographic change. Ira brings together his knowledge of politics and his background in international trade and the global economy in an illuminating discussion of how stresses in the global economy are impacting politics and government around the world, with particular focus on the United States, Europe, Japan and China. He identifies a core question---is it possible for national governments to be effective in this globalized world?---and dissects the frequent failures, and occasional successes on the world scene, and comes up with some surprising answers. This talk contains valuable insights on how the United States can navigate what Fareed Zakaria has called "the rise of the rest."

Assessing the Senate’s Comeback

Is Japan Finally Recovering:  The Abe Government’s Strong Start?

Twenty Women Senators: Does It Make a Difference?

+/-