David Rubenstein on the 'Panda Sex' Principle of Politics

This morning, on the final day of the Washington Ideas Forum, I got to interview David Rubenstein on topics ranging from the Chinese succession to his own decision to give away his fortune rather than leave it to his children. The world knows Rubenstein as co-founder and head of the Carlyle Group, and because of the public-philanthropy projects he has undertaken. (Underwriting post-earthquake repairs to the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral; buying a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation for display at the White House and of the Magna Carta to be shown at the National Archives; numerous university gifts; etc.) I knew him originally as a fellow low-salaried, mid-20s toiler on the Jimmy Carter presidential campaign and in the Carter White House.

David Rubenstein has also been to the Chinese panda reserve I described in our magazine a few years ago. This morning he applied lessons from panda life to the ongoing political struggles in the Capitol. You can see the results below. (He is the gray-haired guy with the glasses. I am the gray-haired guy without glasses.)


Presented by

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"


This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.


What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.


Is Minneapolis the Best City in America?

No other place mixes affordability, opportunity, and wealth so well.

More in Politics

From This Author

Just In