Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 25, 2010

OBAMA BORROWS FROM MADDOW IN NETROOTS APPEAL.... In a bit of a surprise yesterday afternoon, attendees at this year's Netroots Nation conference in Las Vegas heard a pre-recorded message from President Obama. It was a reminder that as the midterms draw closer -- 100 days until Election Day -- Democratic leaders will be making a more concerted effort to appeal to progressives.

As for the president's message, it seemed implicit that the White House understands liberal frustration with the pace of progress, but Obama wants to remind the left "to consider all that we've accomplished so far."

At that point, the video stopped showing the president, and started showing a segment from "The Rachel Maddow Show," aired about a month ago. It showed the host pointing to some of the breakthrough accomplishments of the last 18 months: Wall Street reform, the Affordable Care Act, the Recovery Act, S-CHIP expansion, Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, nuclear arms deal with Russia, a new global nonproliferation initiative, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, dismantled the MMS, and student loan reform.

The list didn't include, by the way, new regulation of the credit card industry, new regulation of the tobacco industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, and the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years. These were probably left out of the litany to save time, which in and of itself seems significant -- the accomplishments are so plentiful, there's just not enough time in a four-minute presentation to mention them all.

The fact that the White House made use of the Maddow clip was also an interesting move. The president could have just as easily read the same list of successes himself, but the video instead relied on an outside voice to lend the accomplishments more objective credibility. That Rachel is probably more popular with many NN attendees right now than the president didn't hurt, either.

It's also worth noting that the clip wasn't just about Obama taking a victory lap. The president emphasized that "we're not done," and vowed to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

Which led to the midterm pitch: "We're moving America forward. When we've come this far, we can't afford to slide back. And that's the choice America faces this November. Between going back to the failed policies that got us into this mess, and moving forward with policies that are leading us out. I don't need to tell you that. What I'm asking you is to keep making your voices heard. To keep holding me accountable. To keep up the fight. Change is hard, but if we've learned anything these past 18 months, it's that change is possible. It's possible when folks like you remember the fundamental truth of our democracy: that change doesn't come from the top down, it comes from the bottom up. It comes from the Netroots, the grassroots, every American who loves their country and believes they can make a difference. We've done it before. We can do it again. Let's finish what we've started."

Steve Benen 8:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Neither you nor Maddow mentioned sharply increased fuel economy standards. Once upon a time that woulda been huge.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on July 25, 2010 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

-And, meanwhile, at the Eagle Forum, the same tired old shibboleths are being repeated ad nauseam.

Posted by: DAY on July 25, 2010 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry I meant to type "fleet economy standards" for fuel economy for cars and light trucks. My bad. However, in my haste I did manage to be frist.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on July 25, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Obama has accomplished a lot, but there is still so much to be done. We really can't let the Republicans force a 2 year halt at this point. Now is the time to send money and get your friends fired up for November.

Notice he says we should continue to hold him accountable, well that is a lot easier when we have the congress than when the Republicans are in control of the house or Senate and are raining crazy on the President day in and day out.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 25, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

As Glenn Greenwald has often - and correctly - pointed out, there's a lot about this administration that is both disturbing and incredibly frustrating, e.g. Civil rights, Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, Predator Drone strikes, etc. That needs to be acknowledged and actively campaigned against, but I gotta give the President and his Democratic Party's House and Senate members some serious props for everything they've achieved and the huge benefit it will have for American going forward.

Seriously, try to imagine these accomplishments 2 years ago? Anybody saying any of these things out loud back then would have been laughed out of the room and carted off to a padded cell!

Posted by: kiweagle on July 25, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Keep in mind they've had to get 60 votes for everything they did. That in itself is amazing. I've criticized Harry Reid many times, but getting 60 votes for anything is hard. Getting 60 votes for everything they've accomplished, is truly remarkable.

Posted by: atlliberal on July 25, 2010 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

All of these accomplishments are truly remarkable. And yet, the majority of VOTING Americans remained eith too stoopid or brainwashed to see them. I agree with Rachel. The president needs to engage them in their own war. He needs to take a "reporter", preferably a fox reporter, down a few notches.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on July 25, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

The president needs to engage them in their own war. He needs to take a "reporter", preferably a fox reporter, down a few notches.

The POTUS should not punch down. He needs better surrogates to take the fight to FOX. What is the DNC doing? Hari Sevugan is excellent, but needs to get out more, and become a public face. Where is Tim Kaine? Where are the rest of the congressional Democrats? Besides Anthony Weiner and Alan Grayson, not very many of them are punching back.

Posted by: sue on July 25, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Did anyone mention that there would ne no American Car industry if it were not for Obama.
The health care bill is not what we wanted, but anyone reading about social security and medicare knows that it was not so good, but went on to improve.

Posted by: js on July 25, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

You mean to tell me Obama is a Democrat!! wow, now that is a new one!! after all he has done for the Corporatist Republican Business/Savvy Businessmen, i guess throwing more Democrats under the bus is still his "Plan" on how to Govern! NOT

Posted by: Bernard on July 25, 2010 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'd be more impressed if he just went with:

Yea, we screwed you good, but we tossed you a couple of bones, and the Republicans wont do that.

Because I'm somewhat disturb that he might actually believe his own crap.

Posted by: Glen on July 25, 2010 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Glen: "...but we tossed you a couple of bones..."

You must eat pretty damn well if you consider that list of accomplishments "a couple of bones." If you've got somethin' better, you definitely should share.

Posted by: cr on July 25, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Obama inherited thirty years of voodoo Reaganomics coming apart at the seams. He knows how to fix it, just look at the Great Depression, and do it again. (I, know, I know, that's not politically possible)

Wall St bailout - $4+ trillion to prop up failed companies (top estimate $23.7 trillion)
Buying shares/nationalizing/bankruptcy off the table.

HCR - Forced to use same health care insurance companies that wrecked American health care.
Single payer, expand Medicare
off the table.

FinReg - Give the same Fed/Treasury that screwed us (along with Wall St) more power.
Reenact Glass-Stegall, break up TBTF, pass structural rather than regulator based law off the table

You see the problem is that the economy is like gravity, it's not going to be swayed by extend and pretend and doesn't care about what's politically possible. Obama has govern like Hoover and lead us to brink of a great depression all over again. He had the political clout in 2009 to crush the Republicans into the ground and push hard for real fixes rather than sell outs. As it is, we're gonna go down with the Republicans braying that Obama's socailism/facsism/progressive policies don't work, and I'll have to agree that Obama policies don't work, but that's mostly because he's governing more like he's Bush III than a real Democrat.

So acknowledging that he screwed us, that would be a good starting point.

Posted by: Glen on July 25, 2010 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

In the same way that "real Americans" lowered the bar for Bush on how much of a fuck up you could be without being dragged by the neck out of office behind a galloping horse; "real Americans" are continuously raising the bar for what Obama must do to be considered worthy of office.

Obama didn't snap his fingers and cause the World Trade Center to spontaneously reassemble and all lives lost on 9/11 to be miraculously restored, so he's a total failure.

Let's hurry up and get Sarah Palin elected to the presidency so she clean up the mess Clinton made.

Give me a fuckin' break.

Posted by: Winkandanod on July 25, 2010 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Just DADT and Gitmo??? That is not going to get the base out. Rumor has it the laurel factories in SE Asia are going 24/7.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on July 25, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

He had the political clout in 2009 to crush the Republicans into the ground and push hard for real fixes rather than sell outs.

I guess anything seems possible to those who don't know how to count to sixty. Maybe you'll get your pony for christmas.

Posted by: cr on July 25, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

The WH has long respected Rachel Maddow. They send cabinet members there sometimes. I suspect that Ed Schultz is going to be really mad that they picked Rachel Maddow over him.

In any case, Obama's uber critics are using the video to say to us Obamabots that "see, he wants criticism" - not sh*t sherlock, did you catch the part where he said change was hard and that it comes from the bottom up?

Posted by: Alli on July 25, 2010 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

So acknowledging that he screwed us, that would be a good starting point.
Posted by: Glen

why yes glen! if he had only snapped his fingers, he could have abolished disease itself. not only would we have not needed the insurance companies, we would not have needed doctors, hospitals, the whole health care industry!

and if he had only sprinkled faerie dust, the economy would sprung back to life without those nasty banks! (and of course if used the way back machine in the oval office, he could have gone back to the fall of 2008 and undone TARP itself!) everyone would have pitched in to get things moving again.

if obama had only waved his magic wand three times, he would have turned ben nelson and blanche lincoln and joe lieberman into flame-throwing liberals and jon kyl, jim demint and james inhofe would have become reasonable men. iraq and afghanistan would have done away. north korea would have become a jeffersonian democracy, terrorism would have evaporated, civil rights laws would collect dust because we'd all get along with each other and a climate bill and dadt repeal wouldn't be needed cause we'd all do the right thing.

btw, i have a question for you. how many republicans voted for the stimulus bill? how much impact did obama's vault full of political capital have on them?

Posted by: mudwall jackson on July 25, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK
At that point, the video stopped showing the president, and started showing a segment from "The Rachel Maddow Show," aired about a month ago. It showed the host pointing to some of the breakthrough accomplishments of the last 18 months:...

Gee, I wonder why Obama didn't go with this Maddow clip aired about 2 months ago discussing prisoners & journos in Guantanamo.

Posted by: cwolf on July 25, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

sue, @10:37
Can't say about the others, but Timid Timmy (Kaine) is, likely, playing his harmonica at some low-key fundraisers. That's what he does best.

Posted by: exlibra on July 25, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

I can both criticize Obama and support him at the same time. The left should apply as much pressure as possible on this president to keep him moving in the right direction. We must put as much pressure on him as the right does BUT we must also consider the alternative when we don't get what we want and demand.

Imagine a McCain/Palin response to our problems. Imagine a republican majority and what their priorities would be. Imagine how much more disappointed we'd be, the disasters that are sure to come as they have in the past over and over again when repubs were in charge and now they are even crazier, even more clueless. I want the best we can achieve not the worst that could happen. Imagine if the filibuster were meaningless in the senate because of a dem super-majority (enough to override even the conservadems). The republicans know that the only way they can gain a majority in the midterms is to steal it...and now you know it too. Demand a voter trail to combat election fraud. Do not let Rove's murder of Mike Connell be without consequence.

Posted by: bjobotts on July 25, 2010 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

"...Posted by: Glen on July 25, 2010 at 1:24 PM

Sorry Glenn but perhaps you've forgotten that TARP and the Bank/Wall street bailout was done by Bush. And aren't you forgetting that thanks to Obama 95% of Americans are paying the lowest income taxes since 1959? Have you overlooked that senate dems have a handful of DINOs joining with republicans to obstruct and waterdown legislation or that our government is virtually owned by the Banks and Ins. companies...that Obama fights a wall of lobbyists daily? Like Van Jones said at NN, Obama volunteered to become captain of the Titanic after it had already hit the iceberg and has been miraculously keeping it afloat. And what is the alternative...a McCain/Palin mindset doing exactly what they are told by lobbyists to do. Putting republicans in office is just solidifying an oligarchy.

Obama has done more for this nation than any other person would have even been capable of doing yet is still a disappointment to what we all want...what we hoped for. So maybe instead of looking at Obama's failures so much you should look at the feasibility of your expectations. Up against such odds just what did you expect?. In just 2yrs his accomplishments are phenomenal but he is not done yet. Why are you so quick to condemn?

Posted by: bjobotts on July 25, 2010 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

"...just look at the Great Depression and do it again (I know, I know, that's not politically possible)..." Glen 1:24 PM.

I have come to grips with the fact that many who call themselves "progressives" apparently are unable to count to 60, but the complete failure to know the history that they are using to buttress their "arguments" is refreshingly new. Of course, some things can get stale really, really fast.
It was "politically possible" in 1933 because the country had quite simply ceased to function economically. Four years after the market collapse, and three and half years after the economy started its steady slide downhill, official unemployment was over 25%, add in those on reduced hours/wages and the rate approached 50%. Few states had unemployment insurance, charitible offerings had all but dried up. Farmers, representing a much larger percentage of the workforce than today, had been suffering throughout the 1920s and reached the point where they couldn't break even, let alone make enough to pay anything on the high debts incurred during WWI.
States began shutting financial institutions and declaring "bank holidays" in February, 1933. It was either that or watch as every bank in the country was declared bankrupt, completing the economic meltdown.
Look, the only reason the Democrats (and a few Republicans) were able to pass many of the bill they did, was because it was either that or revolution! Literally. That was how FDR got the New Deal passed. The rich were so frightened that they failed to put up any fight in 1933. By the time they'd regained their nerve, in 1936, they showed their usual complete lack of understanding of what had happened and campaigned on, wait for it, a repeal of most of the New Deal! Not surprisingly, they lost.
And as long as the majority of the voters in this country were survivors of the Great Depression, they continued to lose. In case you haven't noticed, it's the children of those survivors that are the mainstay of the Tea/Republican Party. The ones who, by the efforts of their parents, never faced the deprivations and hardships THEY had to face. Spoiled is the word that applies, I believe.
Unrealistic, however, is the term to apply to those of a different political persuasion...

Posted by: Doug on July 25, 2010 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Funny how the Republicans never needed 60 to pass their legislation. Funny how Ole Harry never forces the Right to actually filibuster and then uses that obstruction as a political means to make the point that our current economic crisis will not be resolved in a business as usual manner. Funny how comity in the Senate is always a top priority. Funny how we're all supposed to be pleased that our moderate Republican president wants criticism from the Left while he campaigns in primaries for the very people who block progressive policy. Funny how I'm glad McCain and Palin aren't in charge but I sure wish a real Democrat would primary Mr. Audacity in 2012.

Posted by: jeer9 on July 26, 2010 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

jeer9: I sure wish a real Democrat would primary... in 2012.

Who would that be? Somebody like the left's darling, Mr. FuckAroundWhileMyWifeHasCancer? The guy that's not satisfied with just being Mr. FuckAroundAndKeepItQuiet, but he has to be Mr. FuckAroundAndHaveAFuckingBaby! Yeah, that'll fucking work.

Maybe you'll try Kucinich, eh? A REAL Democrat! Kinda like Sarah's REAL Americans, nice and fringy.

Who else you got in your little dreamworld? I'm sure that the current darling, Grayson, would be popular with the moderates and independents. You might want to make sure he wins reelection to his congressional seat first, though, and without a scandal of putting an imposter on the ballot.

Who else? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Posted by: cr on July 26, 2010 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

Support for moderate compromise-everything-away-before-you-start-bargaining centrism seems to be a bit hysterical this morning. Time for your meds, I think. Glad to know there's at least one Obama supporter who's fired up and ready to canvas neighborhoods for his favorite DINO. I'm sure all those layed-off middle class voters will be interested in the triumph of the stimulus bill.

Posted by: jeer9 on July 26, 2010 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

"Do not let Rove's murder of Mike Connell be without consequence."
Posted by: bjobotts on July 25, 2010 at 3:56 PM |

I thought I kept up with things pretty well -- read several lefty blogs daily, check in with others weekly or monthly. Never heard this mentioned before, not once.
Little help here, please -- is that likely because this is a lefty version of the Publicans' "Klintoon" insanity, in which they lay, what is it now, hundreds, scores, or still just dozens, of "suspicious" deaths at the door of Bill&Hill? Or is there some reality contact behind this?
Either way, or some other, I thank you, bjobotts, for mentioning it here.

Posted by: smartalek on July 26, 2010 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK



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