The start to the CES keynote by Gary Shapiro, the President of CEA was pretty uncomfortable. He started off by a pretty jingoistic launch focused on how America was the world’s best at innovating, because it’s our culture. Then he said it wasn’t our culture and that the Democrats (and our President) were messing things up.
It was really uncomfortable. There had been an awful lot of buzz in the room about how exciting things were and it all got really quiet.
He then showed a video that was some pretty blatant political propaganda. The theme was “mobilize because America is not very good anymore!”. The idea was (I’m paraphrasing) “We have to beat those foreigners and take our industry back by pushing partisan politics”. I sat and wondered, exactly how does this help the CEA? How does it help anyone sell anything?
I also wondered how annoyed would I be if I was Sony, Research In Motion, or any one of hundreds of international companies that had spent their money to be here. I thought that I would not have felt welcome.
He then said “I will be signing copies of my book out front after the keynote”. People laughed at that, then were surprised that it was really true. So it got a bit more uncomfortable.
The tagline to this very long and frankly baffling US protectionism as international trade show rally was, “and of course we also have 25,000 international visitors registered here, more than ever before, we welcome them”.
Fortunately things got much better with the Verizon kickoff. My takeaway was that I am very glad that I don’t belong to CEA I’m not comfortable supporting this organization.