11/05/2014 08:25 am ET Updated Jan 05, 2015

Questions for Dilma 2.0

We just voted in the United States too, in "midterms," the congressional and gubernatorial elections that come two years into each presidential term. So we're a little distracted here in Washington because the Republican Party probably gained majority control of the United States Senate for the first time since 2006 and since Barack Obama, a Democrat, took office in 2009. With likely Republican control of both the House and Senate, the president's last two years in office may require massive legislative compromise on his agenda and more executive action than his first term.

In this context, whether and how to fix -- dare I say 'reset' -- relations with Dilma 2.0 is not exactly a headline, and won't be again until and unless she and Barack Obama decide to reschedule the state visit. So before I start shopping (again) for my evening gown or persuading my husband to buy a tuxedo from the 21st century, here are seven questions Susan Rice and John Kerry might pose to Planalto and Itamaraty before we go too crazy over sartorial opportunities.

  1. Now that both presidents have more conservative congresses with which to contend, what is the realistic scope of a refreshed bilateral agenda, and how will Brazil help to advance it?
  2. Since a bilateral tax treaty has been sort of on the agenda for the last ten years, why is it more likely to become a reality now?
  3. Now that the United States and Brazil have settled on what appears to be a definitive cotton resolution, and especially given the constraints of MERCOSUR, are the conditions ripe, or even riper, for a blue skies dialogue about free, or even freer trade?
  4. What exactly is meant in Brasilia by the term "espionage agreement"? (And while we are at it, after all the justified fuss about the NSA last year, why did the issue seem to disappear during your presidential election?)
  5. In foreign policy, can you help us make sense of Brazil and all of Latin America's support for Venezuela's rotating seat on the UN Security Council? (Hint: this is an opportunity for Brazil to enlighten a genuinely, if shockingly, dismayed Washington political class)
  6. When you spoke at the UN General Assembly in September, did you mean to suggest that the West should negotiate with ISIS?
  7. If President Obama attends next year's Summit of the Americas in Panama along with President Raul Castro, what substantive gain for the region and for the U.S.-Cuban relationship does Brasilia expect to contribute beyond the obvious symbolism?

Perhaps our two presidents will kickstart a dialogue around these questions next week at the G-20 summit. Then, maybe, Dilma's motorcade will pull into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and I'll be able dust off my party shoes.

This article was originally published in Portuguese in Folha de São Paulo. It is originally available here.