Commentary: Listen, learn at summer camp

The war in Iraq is intolerable and interminable. We are struggling with a recession, a flawed energy policy, a weak dollar and an enormous government deficit. President Bush has earned a lower approval rating than Cinderella’s stepmother-and I’m sitting here thinking, “What if the election of 2000 had gone the other way?”

Join me and pose that question to Ron Klain at the men’s edition of Mickey’s Camp this summer. Klain is arguably one of the most well-known national Democrats after the Clintons, Obama and Gore. Recently, Klain was played by actor Kevin Spacey in the HBO movie “Recount,” a behind-the-scenes depiction of Republicans and Democrats engaged in combat on the Florida battlefield and in the U.S. Supreme Court. Klain captained the Democratic team against the James Baker-led Republicans in what was probably the most controversial presidential election in the history of the United States.

I’m told Indianapolis native Klain was reading and could have taught kindergarten at the age of 3. He continued to excel, and after graduating from Harvard Law School magna cum laude, he clerked for Justice Byron R. White on the Supreme Court. He served the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1992 as a member of the policy staff and the debate preparation team. His service with the Clinton-Gore administration included work as associate counsel to the president, a role in which he directed judicial selection efforts and led the selection/confirmation team for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

With the Democratic National Convention in Denver scheduled just days after camp, politics should be of paramount interest, and we’ll have one of the most intelligent, interesting and sought-after political commentators as our guest.

Ron Klain will not be the only presenter new to the men’s camp this year. The Black Widow, repeatedly recognized by Billiards Digest as one of the sport’s most powerful people, will teach billiards and exhibit her extraordinary talents. The Black Widow has claimed more than 30 national and international titles. Mayor Greg Ballard will be the keynote speaker.

At Mickey’s Camp for Women, France Córdova, an internationally recognized astrophysicist and the president of Purdue University, will be the keynote speaker. Women’s camp will feature an impressive array of presenters, including backgammon champion Chuck Bower, currently ranked 29th all time on the American Backgammon Tour; LoreeJon Jones, holder of more than 50 major billiards titles, including eight world championships and three U.S. Open Championships; and Dennis Kasle, a nationally famous bridge expert who at one time was Indiana’s youngest Life Master.

One of the cheese world’s living legends, Max McCalman, will present artisanal cheeses at the women’s camp. McCalman has published “The Cheese Plate” (Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2002), which was nominated for awards from the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Cooking Professionals.

Women will also have an opportunity to taste the two most expensive coffees in the world with expert Peter Beering; sharpen golf skills with Nancy Fitzgerald, USGA senior women’s amateur champion and a member of the Indiana Golf Hall of Fame; and learn the art of Texas Hold ‘Em from the first lady of poker, Linda Johnson, winner of more than 100 tournaments and only the second woman in history to win a gold bracelet at the World Series of Poker. Wine tasting has been added to the women’s camp this year and will be presented by Christian Butzke, enology professor at Purdue University.

Men and women will have an opportunity to choose among 40 activities. Camp brochures are available at mickeyscamp.comor by e-mailing me at the address listed below, but act fast, there are slightly more than a dozen spots open at the women’s camp and fewer than half that remain at the men’s camp. Please come to the women’s camp (Aug. 18-20) or the men’s camp (Aug. 20-22) and help us donate more than $250,000 to central Indiana charities this summer.

Maurer is a shareholder in IBJ Media Corp., which owns Indianapolis Business Journal.To comment on this column, send e-mail to

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