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.]