Hillary Clinton on the USA Pavilion @ Expo 2010: “It’s fine.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stopped by the USA pavilion at Expo 2010 (World’s Fair) this morning and, according to numerous media outlets (among them, the New York Times and the Washington Post), had this to say when asked her opinion about the USA pavilion which she was instrumental in building/saving: “It’s fine.”

Not great. Not spectacular. Not even good. Just plain old “fine.”

To be clear: responsibility for the uninspiring design and programming of the USA pavilion does not belong to Clinton, but rather to Shanghai Expo 2010, Inc, a non-profit organization designated to design, build, and fund the pavilion by the Bush State Department (with the steadfast, key, and ongoing support of the leadership of the US Consulate in Shanghai). For those members of the media looking for additional details – including names named – on how the United States ended up with what the Washington Post’s John Pomfret suggests “resembles more a convention center in a medium-size American city than a showcase for the United States,” I direct you over to this helpful ‘Reporter’s Guide to the USA Pavilion‘ and “A Sorry Spectacle,” my March 2010 summation of the situation at Foreign Policy magazine. Further information can be found under this blog’s Expo 2010 – USA Pavilion category.

[Addendum: Both the New York Times and the Washington Post quote Frank Lavin, Chair of the USA Pavilion’s Steering Committee, in their reportage from the Clinton visit. This is unfortunate. In June 2009, at a point when the USA pavilion non-profit was nearly broke, Lavin – a former ambassador to Singapore under George W. Bush – publicly claimed that the US Congress had adopted a resolution in favor of his non-profit organization’s effort to build a pavilion at Expo 2010. However, Congress did no such thing, and Lavin’s statement was quickly retracted – though without apology to the pavilion’s donors, much less, Congress (Shanghai Scrap’s coverage of this disreputable moment in USA pavilion history, here). In the wake of his lie, Lavin disappeared from public view. Many – including me – hoped that – in the interest of his and the pavilion’s dignity – he wouldn’t reappear. Too bad that he did.]


  1. OUCH! If she put it that way in public can you IMAGINE what she was saying in private???

  2. Check out my analysis on Huffington Post (the Public Diplomacy Zeus must be tossing down bolts!):

    “Hillary Hits Her Hut; or, How I Was Shanghai’ed at the US Pavilion, as told by the American Secretary of State (her eyes wide-open!)” May 22, 2010

    Tragically comic on its surface, this story becomes dire when you dive down to the depths of duplicity and mendacity that it conceals. What it signifies we should expect in the future is far scarier than what it seems to be about today.

  3. PS To Adam’s point about Lavin, a single Congressman introduced a resolution to support the US Pavilion. He signed on four coauthors and there the matter ended. No vote was ever taken.

    A resolution of that sort might have sounded great to the pavilion organizers including Lavin — quick cash when they needed it, just what the law provides for via the appropriation process — but it would have collided smack dab with the State Department’s plans to privatize the pavilion. Once you take their money, you must open your kimono to these pesky Congress Members and their constituents — and so would end privatization, stopped in its tracks. No wonder the Obama Administration didn’t even acknowledge the resolution.

    But the pavilion organizers included a copy in their belated application to the IRS for expedited tax-exempt status. Now that the Administration didn’t oppose, because tax deductibility makes privatization so much easier. It gives new meaning to the term “contribution” so far as corporate donors/sponsors/”marketing partners” are concerned.

  4. I think Hillary’s review is very fair and diplomatic. I visited the US pavilion and I didn’t think it was so terrible as this blog and others suggested. But I don’t think it is the pavilion worthy of the world’s biggest and most powerful nation. It will not make the Chinese people admire the US but at least there is a pavilion for them to go and see if they want.

  5. Adam I was around some of the secretary’s staff on Saturday and they know it’s lousy. But there’s nothing they can do now but suck it up and pretend they built something good.

  6. DCA whaddaya mean there’s nothing they can do? Sure they have to pretend the building is good. But while they do that they can figure out who in shanghai and dc is responsible for this mess. Has there been a positive review of the thing anywhere??? Nobody is responsible for that??? Or are they going to keep blaiming legal restrictions on funding for the ugly building? PLEASE!

  7. This blog is misrepresenting what the pavilion looks like currently. It does not currently look like that. Shame on you for misleading your readers. Give them a chance to check it out on their own.

  8. MMS – Ummm … so what, precisely, is different about it? I was last there on Wednesday, and – aside from crowds – it looks precisely like that. If you have a photo (copyrighted to you) that suggests differently, please contact me through the contact form, I’ll email back to you, you can send the image, and I’ll promptly post it. And, if you so desire, your confidentiality will be guaranteed! In the meantime, you are welcome to provide a precise description of how the pavilion differs from the above photo.

  9. Still waiting on MMS’ (see comment dated May 29, 2010 @6:27 pm) picture of what the USA pavilion “looks like currently”.

    And, where do such posters come from?

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