Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 29, 2010

SHADES OF '08.... Some of the White House's political gambits of recent months have been smarter than others. ("Recovery Summer," for example, belongs squarely in the "what were they thinking?" category.)

But whoever came up with the idea for a series of '08-style rallies in the campaign's closing weeks probably deserves a pat on the back. President Obama headlined an impressive event at the University of Wisconsin in Madison late yesterday afternoon, and if the goal was to capture some of the spirit of the presidential campaign, it worked like a charm.

President Obama, seeking to avert potentially devastating losses for Democrats on Election Day, delivered an impassioned appeal to a cheering throng of college students here Tuesday night, telling them to "keep believing change is possible" and pleading, "You've got to stick with me, you can't lose heart."

In a 45-minute speech on a packed green in front of the library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Mr. Obama reached back to the soaring rhetoric that carried him to the White House in 2008. The old-fashioned get-out-the-vote rally, in a brisk wind under gray skies, seemed to energize the president as much as the crowd.

"Change is going to come for this generation -- if we work for it, if we fight for it, if we believe in it!" Mr. Obama thundered. "The biggest mistake we can make is to let disappointment or frustration lead to apathy and indifference."

According to local law enforcement, 26,500 people showed up for the rally, and before the gates opened, the line of people waiting to enter stretched over a mile. (A local report said the crowd was "exceedingly well behaved.") What's more, the event was simulcast online to 200 other campuses, as part of a not-so-subtle attempt to reinvigorate younger voters who gave Obama a boost in 2008, but who traditionally don't vote in midterm elections.

In a message that seemed targeted specifically to those first-time voters from two years ago, the president said, "You proved that the power of everyday people, going door to door, neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend, was stronger than the status quo. You tapped into something that this country hadn't seen in a very long time. You did that. Every single one of you is a shareholder in that mission of rebuilding our country."

That "shareholder" line seemed new and noteworthy -- it was a way of reinforcing the notion that those who helped elect Obama are literally invested in his success, and have an incentive to avoid a hostile takeover of what they created.

Wisconsin, home to competitive gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, was the first of four scheduled "Moving America Forward" rallies, with the next three scheduled for Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, each of which will also hold key gubernatorial and Senate races this year.

Politico's report noted that Madison offered "proof that the president could still work his magic."

I have no quantifiable evidence that rallies like these actually boost midterm turnout or affect the "enthusiasm gap," and with a struggling economy, I'm not sure how much of the country is even willing to listen.

But if last night was any indication, the White House may want to revisit the schedule and hold a few more of these events over the next 34 days.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Watching the event brought back memories of 2008, I sure hope this gets people energized because the stakes are so high right now, we could see all the progress that has been made evaporate if the GOP gain control.It will be the reign of the crazies.

Posted by: js on September 29, 2010 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

God, I hope this works!
Better late than never, and no one but us political geeks pays attention to elections until after Labor Day. 4+ weeks to go. Time to kick some ass!!!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on September 29, 2010 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

The person who came up with the idea of '08 rallies to energize the Democrats is David Plouffe.

I am soooooo glad that he is going into the White House early next year and Axelrod is leaving. If you read the book GAME CHANGE it is David Plouffe who is the embodiment of Obama's "hope and change" rather than Axelrod.

Posted by: Maritza on September 29, 2010 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

"keep believing change is possible. . . . You've got to stick with me, you can't lose heart."

It looks like Obama isn't as clueless as liberals thought he was. He has learned something.

Instead of being Charlie Brown to the Republicans' Lucy, Obama has become Lucy and he's offering to hold the football for us liberals.

This doesn't mean I won't vote for Democrats in November. Obama and the Democrats are infinitely better than the Republicans. I'm even sending money to worthwhile Democrats like Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania. But after two years of watching Obama defend the status quo, I no longer believe in his promise of change.


Posted by: SteveT on September 29, 2010 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

That "shareholder" line reminded me of Howard Dean- before the MSM decided, since he had slipped the corporate leash, to destroy him.

Good move, Mr. President. Give a guy a membership card and a secret decoder ring, and he will follow his superhero thru the fires of hell!

Posted by: DAY on September 29, 2010 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

If the GOP is in favor of sending jobs overseas, boycotting US workers, could we get a list of companies to boycott? They don't want to pay US workers so why should US workers pay for their crappy products?

Posted by: joan on September 29, 2010 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

The NYT says Feingold showed up, which I guess is reassuring. Shows that he understands that his best strategy is to energise his voters rather than to try to split the difference with the "independents" who might be less likely to vote for him if they associate him with Obama (and who do not exist).

Posted by: Basilisc on September 29, 2010 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

Watching that rally totally brought back the '08 feeling back. It is a feeling of hope and exhilaration. It is a feeling that anything is possible. It is the counterweight to the anger of the teaparty.

We LOVE this "Candidate Obama", "Professor Obama" not so much.

"Candidate Obama" inspires us to vote by tapping into our hopes and desires. "Professor Obama" scolds us to vote which taps into our guilt.

The White House needs to drop the scolding and do more of the inspiring.

Posted by: Maritza on September 29, 2010 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Firebagger says...

That "shareholder" line seemed new and noteworthy -- it was a way of reinforcing the notion that those who helped elect Obama are literally invested in his success...

How dare Obama put the responsibility for the running of our democracy back into the hands of the people. I'm so sick of this guy sell outs.
If I wanted a war criminal I could have voted for McCain!
I'm taking my vote and staying home.
That'll learn 'em to take us Firebaggers for granted.

Posted by: Organic Teabags for Brains on September 29, 2010 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Good, Organic Teabags. You get what you pay for.

Posted by: pol on September 29, 2010 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Indicting some prominent actors in cases that are clear insults to the American nations pride might have a salubrious effect .
Amongst those are the heart felt millions who drolly mumble ,
"Apologise , if not , the eagles will come and pull out your eyes."
Yes there may be money and power in republican schemes , but there is also a palpable spirit which demands justice . The payment will be the humbling of the arrogance in privilege .

Posted by: FRP on September 29, 2010 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

But whoever came up with the idea for a series of '08-style rallies in the campaign's closing weeks probably deserves a pat on the back. President Obama headlined an impressive event at the University of Wisconsin in Madison

...and had the good sense not to hire Francis Ford Coppola;>

http://www.bravamagazine.com/article.jsp?id=1857&department=27

(you're too young to remember)

Posted by: martin on September 29, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

26,500 people? I'd say the estimate should be closer to a half-million, since we're counting a crowd at a political rally. It's only fair, after all.

Posted by: Daniel Kim on September 29, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Iattended the rally and it was GREAT. The 40 minute speech was impassioned and substantive. Obama stuck around afterwards to shake hands and was MOBBED. Afterwards, thousands stuck around under the klieg lights savoring the historical experience. Turning point in the campaign?

Posted by: Mark Lowry on September 29, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with Maritza.

As with the psychology of positive reinforcement - given rarely so as to avoid complacency, yet often enough to be mentally rewarding - Obama has sided a bit too much with the rare.

Give us that tingling feeling, that inspiration. And keep it coming. I don't want to be ashamed of the tears I shed the night of the election. Don't make me embarrassed for that - inspire me to keep up the good fight. Fight these damn bastards - take it to them. Fight and lose is better than not fighting at all.

Posted by: terraformer on September 29, 2010 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

I saw clips of the speech on Rachel Maddow show last night and now I just cry. How can the feelings from two years ago feel like now?
Americans admit it, we still need a healing. This President makes us feel the promise of being whole again. We know what is needed,work, let's just do it.After all we can't just leave him in the White House to get it done alone. He needs our help. But moving forward we must trust in his judgment to lead. Stay engaged, raise questions, with the knowledge of how government works!

Posted by: Sharon on September 29, 2010 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Until a few minutes ago, Michelle Malkin was still leading with a link to yesterday's bogus Fox News story on how the Dems were pleading for people to attend the rally ... she's buried the story now on the right column.

Posted by: Melissa on September 29, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

26,500 people showed up for the rally

the event was simulcast online to 200 other campuses

There was also a live feed on the Organizing for America website.

Using republican logic and math 26,500 X 200=5.3 million plus a gazillion who watched it live at home and you have the entire world.

Posted by: flyonthewall on September 29, 2010 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Not surprising that the People's Republic of Madison turned out for Barry Hussein Obama. Wisconsin has always been one of the blackest and most Moslem states in the union so what did you expect? Let's see how he does in a normal state.

Posted by: Myke K on September 29, 2010 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile NPR this morning reported that there 'were thousands' at the rally .. yep, thousands, compared to how many were actually there, and last night on the BBC newscast for America, that corporate slut called Katy Kay lied even more. She actually said when Obama was a candidate, and went to this University to have a rally, that over 17,000 came. And then said that 'only' 10,000 showed up for this one. Your Corporate Media doing it's best to lie in order to try to defeat Obama and the dems.

Posted by: stormskies on September 29, 2010 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Americans admit it, we still need a healing.

We don;t need a "healing." What we need is a president who lives up to his campaign. We need a president who acts like a Democrat instead selling warmed over Republican policies. We need a president who doesn't go all weak-kneed trying to sell "bipartisanship" with people who hate his (and our) guts. we need a president who works for the people, not the corporations.

Posted by: elbrucce on September 29, 2010 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Call it Monday-morning quarterbacking or 20/20 hindsight if you want. But if, as the Rolling Stone article claims, Obama knew before he was even inaugurated that the Republicans were going to be obstructionist douchebags, then he blew a giant opportunity to frame this Congress over a year and a half ago. It’s pretty clear that a lot of Americans don’t know how the government works. I’m not claiming to be an expert either, but how many people really know how the filibuster works, and/or how it SHOULD work? How many people know about the minority party not only being able to filibuster a vote but to even filibuster DEBATE BEFORE a vote? How many people know about holds on judicial nominees or key Cabinet/staff positions?

Obama had a lot on his plate, but for all his talk of wanting a more-transparent government, he should’ve been shouting the names of the very people who were standing in the way of progress every time they did so. After all, the Republicans waste no time blaming everything but the weather on “Obama-Reid-Pelosi style socialism” or similar horsecrap. Why not say which senators have holds on judicial nominees, thus clogging the process of people seeking justice, let alone finding it? Why not name names when a key position in the Department of Defense remains unfilled during a period of two wars? Shame works wonders on babies, and the GOP is filled with WATB looking to ruin the nation because they feel like they’re not getting their way.

We’ve been told all along that Dems were going to lose seats in the House & Senate this year. At the same time, the progress we’d hoped to see this Congress has either been filibustered or drastically watered down. Imagine if the names of the people who stood in the way of progress were as well known as Lindsey Lohan’s or Snooki’s, because every time a Democrat had access to a microphone they chastised those politicians? We could possibly (not definitely, but possibly) be looking at MORE seats, or at least better progressives replacing more Blue Dogs, to make it crystal clear to these a-holes that we want progress. Instead, the talk is all about how Obama will be punished for biting off more than he could chew, by putting more politicians in place who will try to starve his agenda.

So many blown opportunities all around , but to me, the biggest opportunities were blown the moment Obama knew he wasn’t going to see any bipartisanship from the GOP, and decided to keep fighting for it. As a result, I can’t completely dismiss the conspiracy theory that Obama didn’t want nearly as much progress as he claimed he wanted. He had (and still has a SLIVER of) an opportunity to really, thoroughly, perhaps PERMANENTLY, change the political landscape to where Republicans are neutralized to the point of being barely a token-resistance party, and he didn’t go for it. Why? Because Republicans might be mean to him? How did that work out for him? For all of us?

Posted by: slappy magoo on September 29, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

@slappy magoo-While I can agree that we never heard much from Obama and dems in general when they had a microphone, some of us heard from him in e-mails, internet videos, read the White House and OFA Blogs, moveon.org, truemajority.org, and other avenues to receive and read information. I even received a thank you for signing Obama's birthday card. Not a day went by that I didn't get a political e-mail, and not those from the crazy uncle types.

If you consider about 5 million people get their info from TV news where microphones are used, you're not counting the other millions who get their info from other sources like the ones I suggest. Obama has over 13 million freinds on his facebook page. I use my TV to watch other things besides politicians.

Posted by: flyonthewall on September 29, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

"The White House needs to drop the scolding and do more of the inspiring."

No. What we need is a president with the slightest intention of living up to the high rhetoric he throws around. That isn't Obama. We've known that since way back in the primary when he voted to give the telecoms complete immunity for helping the government spy on americans illegally.

Obama has always talked a god game, it's when we actually hand him the ball that we find he was on the other team all along.

Posted by: Tlaloc on September 29, 2010 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

If Obama gets the contented Dems to vote in the mid-terms, republican gains will be blunted. It really is that simple.

Posted by: OB on September 29, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

"some of us heard from him in e-mails, internet videos, read the White House and OFA Blogs, moveon.org, truemajority.org, and other avenues to receive and read information."

Otherwise known as "preaching to the choir."

The real battleground is over the uninformed. Every day, repubs get in front of microphones and spew BULLSHIT that for the most part goes unanswered. Dems have to aggressively counter that in the most public forums possible, even if it means trailing them and challenging them when they get in front of the mic.

The MSM loves a good fight, and Dems need to starting bringing it if they want to get equal time.

Posted by: bdop4 on September 29, 2010 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

According to local law enforcement, 26,500 people showed up for the rally

Leave it to Jake the Tapper. On last night’s ABC World News, he underreported it as only 10,000, which he then said was far less of a turnout than the rally there in ‘08.

Posted by: Joe Friday on September 29, 2010 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

I heard a report on NPR about the Madison rally and they couldn't help but be positive about it - until the end. Then they had to throw in a little commentary about one of the entertainers - a singer - and they said he sang here in 08, but his singing didn't sound as "hopeful" yesterday. And this is one of the reasons I don't contribute to NPR any more.

Posted by: CDW on September 29, 2010 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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