Aspen Idea alive and well
July 11, 2006
Aspen is one hell of a place to live. Or visit, for that matter.That fact was startlingly apparent last week, when the political, business and intellectual elite came to the Aspen Institute for a week of seminars, panels, interviews and speeches. Not to gush or anything, but the Institute’s second annual Aspen Ideas Festival was simply amazing. Where else on the planet would the Bush administration’s deputy chief of staff, and top political hit man, Karl Rove answer three difficult questions from ex-President Bill Clinton?Clinton posed those questions for Rove during a speech Friday night. Institute President and former CNN boss Walter Isaacson asked Rove to answer them on the stage at Harris Hall Sunday morning. Rove stumbled through one answer, became defensive on another and dodged the third by questioning Clinton’s accuracy. It was a remarkable exchange.The thing is, this year’s festival was filled with remarkable exchanges between Supreme Court justices, politicians, intellectuals, business leaders and economists, educators, journalists and other observers.KAJX, Aspen’s public radio station, also played a key role in this year’s Ideas Festival by bringing much of the “action” live to listeners throughout the valley. The radio station opened up large blocks of time several days last week to air the thoughts of some of the nation’s most thoughtful people.The station’s executive director, Brent Gardner-Smith, said the Institute provided unfettered access to the venues, allowing for maximum exposure for all of us who couldn’t make it to the Institute campus. A private film crew filmed much of the week’s events, which are set to air on GrassRoots TV (Channel 12) later this month or early next. How cool is that?So kudos to the movers and shakers at the Aspen Institute for making the second annual Aspen Ideas Festival a bigger hit than the first. And thanks to the local public radio and community television stations, KAJX and GrassRoots, for sharing so much of what happened in Aspen’s West End last week with the public at large.The Aspen Idea is a alive and well for more people than ever. And that’s good news.