Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Obama's Campaign Manager Answered My Question

A couple friends invited me to meet this guy last night.

Yep, that's Jim Messina, the Obama for America 2012 campaign manager.

And here's the crowd that greeted him last night at OFA Nevada's Las Vegas headquarters.

Full house @OFA_NV last night for very special event #nvp2 #2012 on Twitpic

"Enthusiasm gap" ain't going in this direction... on Twitpic

@BarackObama campaign manager Jim Messina met w/ @OFA_NV @NVD... on Twitpic

Apparently we've become famous in DC for defying "conventional wisdom" in what Messina referred to as "The Nevada Miracle", but what we just call reelecting Harry Reid and rejecting teabagger crazy. So it made sense for him to come here and hear from us about how "The Nevada Miracle" can lead to Barack Obama's reelection.

Short answer: It won't be easy.

Voters are angry, and many just seem to be angry at everyone in Washington. Economists are worried about the recent debt deal making a "double dip recession" more of a possibility as the federal government potentially removes critical investment that our economy actually needs more than ever right now. In short, the country is looking awfully messy right now and folks are asking if President Obama really "gets this".

Does he? I asked Jim Messina last night about the state of the economy and what Obama's response to it will be. And I wasn't the only one asking. But before I left, I wanted to hear how the Obama campaign will tackle the #1 issue in America today... And boy did I get the answer!

Here it is. No really, click on that link. And click here. And remember this.

[Rachel] Maddow discussed how historic the past two years have been, “If the Senate ratifies the START treaty tomorrow it caps an astonishing period in American political history. For the last two years, Democrats have held the White House as well as big majorities in the House and Senate. The record of achievement in that time, even in the face of unified at times totally random republican opposition, Republican opposition even to things Republicans had proposed in the first place, unified Republican opposition to their own ideas? Their track record even in the face of that is historic. Whether you agree or disagree with what Democrats have done in the first two years of President Obama’s presidency, they have freaking done it.”

She listed all the accomplishments, “The fair pay act for women, expanding children’s health insurance, new hate crimes legislation they said could not be done, tobacco regulation, credit card reform, student loan reform, the stimulus — which in addition to helping pull this country back from the brink of a great depression, was also the largest tax cut ever, the largest investment in clean energy ever, the largest investment in education in our country ever. There was also a little thing you may have heard of called health reform. Also, Wall Street reform, the improvements to the new G.I. Bill, the most expansive food SAFETY BILL SINCE THE 1930s. And tomorrow, President Obama will officially sign a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Later Rachel Maddow delivered the kicker, “There are big things this administration said that it wanted to do that it hasn’t done yet. Energy reform, immigration reform, the bush tax cuts for the rich were extended, closing Guantanamo. Those are some of them. Today it looked like one of the important judicial nominees will not get a vote to become a judge this year. There is territory the White House has said it would like to cover that it has not yet covered. By my estimation it is halftime, right, in the first term and with this vote tomorrow they will have gone 85% of the distance they said they wanted to go in the first term of the president.”

If you would have told policy people and political scientists two years ago that halfway through his term in office, Barack Obama will have accomplished 85% of his agenda, they would have laughed at you and told you how impossible that would be given the amount of polarization in our legislative process. If you would go on to tell them that after one year Obama would lose his 60 vote majority in the Senate, and would still pass major legislation the experts would have told you to seek mental help, but this is exactly what President Obama has accomplished.

What Obama has managed to achieve has not been seen in this country since FDR and the New Deal, and on a smaller level LBJ after President Kennedy was assassinated. The past two years have been historic, yet a small vocal minority of Obama’s base is upset with this president and the nation as a whole tends to give him little credit for what he has done.

All too often, we focus on what Obama has not accomplished yet, or on what Obama compromised with Republicans to get passed. And yes, it's real. And yes, as we're seeing with the most recent debt deal, it can be disconcerting. However, we shouldn't forget why this happens: Our government wasn't designed for speedy, revolutionary change, so it obviously wasn't easy to start undoing 40 years worth of radical right policies in just 2 years!

And really, we don't always remember the historic scope of every Democratic accomplishment and every Obama success earned in 2009 and 2010. Every previous Administration that tried universal health care, from Truman to Nixon to Clinton, failed on a colossal scale. No President since Johnson has been successful in pushing "big things" at the federal level, such as the Recovery Act, until this one arrived.

Last night, Messina acknowledged that this may be their biggest challenge going forward. So much really has been accomplished by the Obama Administration, but will the American people really care? And why should they care when the unemployment rate is still over 9%, people are still losing their homes to foreclosure, and three wars are still being waged abroad while Congress breaks for recess after debating whether or not to end Social Security & Medicare as we know it?

He then said that elections are not about the past, but about the future. And he said Obama wants to push for more job creation. OK, so how?

Here comes the infrastructure bank. It looks like this is the idea that's getting the most traction, and at least this would move us back in the right direction of investing in our economy to create jobs. And even though it may not pass The House any time soon, Jan Schakowsky's jobs bill is EXACTLY what we need right now, and hopefully President Obama is willing to fight to at least get much of these good, solid ideas into whatever infrastructure bank proposal that actually lands at Congress' doorstep this fall.

And looking forward, Obama needs to reaffirm that our country really does still "do BIG things". That's what the American people are looking for, and perhaps that's why Obama's poll numbers are looking good nationally, and rebounding to healthy leads here in Nevada and in Colorado. Perhaps despite the differences and despite the occasional outbreaks of outrage & despair, Barack Obama can still lead us in doing big things by taking charge and pushing for real action to strengthen economic recovery.

And regardless of how enthusiastic or "meh" we're feeling about the Obama campaign right now, the truth of the matter is that we need him to perform strongly next year if we want to retake The House and boost our numbers in The Senate. We need for the Democratic ticket to perform well from top to bottom, and I'll be doing my part here in Nevada (again) to make it happen. Hell, I'm even starting with my own canvass on Saturday!

So was I completely satisfied by Jim Messina's answer to my question? If you read above, you can tell. So what am I doing about it? I'm ready to take action, and I'm ready to elect more and better progressive Democrats to make it happen.

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