Archive for September 16, 2010
As the first anniversary of Obama’s election approached, David Koch came to the Washington area to attend a triumphant Americans for Prosperity gathering. Obama’s poll numbers were falling fast. Not a single Republican senator was working with the Administration on health care, or much else. Pundits were writing about Obama’s political ineptitude, and Tea Party groups were accusing the President of initiating “a government takeover.” In a speech, Koch said, “Days like today bring to reality the vision of our board of directors when we started this organization, five years ago.” He went on, “We envisioned a mass movement, a state-based one, but national in scope, of hundreds of thousands of American citizens from all walks of life standing up and fighting for the economic freedoms that made our nation the most prosperous society in history. . . . Thankfully, the stirrings from California to Virginia, and from Texas to Michigan, show that more and more of our fellow-citizens are beginning to see the same truths as we do.
Last week I wrote about how some enthusiastic, hopeful “kids” from Unity College in Maine drove an old solar panel that once stood atop Jimmy Carter’s White House down to D.C. — hoping that “change you can believe in” Obama would put it back up on the roof of the White House.
After a brief meeting at the White House, Obama’s team rejected the idea.
Here’s the sad, behind-the-scenes, play-by-play account of how that went down and how Obama (and the DNC) just lost a slew of young, hopeful, college-age supporters — people who came to our door, unable to control their excitement in 2007/8:
It was all a little odd, to say the least. They refused to accept the Carter panel as a historic relic, or even to pose for a picture with the students and the petition they’d brought with them. Asked to do something easy and symbolic to rekindle a little of the joy that had turned out so many of us as volunteers for Obama in 2008, they point blank said no. In a less than overwhelming gesture, they did, however, pass out Xeroxed copies of a 2009 memorandum from Vice President Biden about federal energy policy.
I can tell you exactly what it felt like, because those three students were brave and walked out graciously, heads high and kept their tears back until we got to the sidewalk. And then they didn’t keep them back, because it’s a tough thing to learn for the first time how politics can work.
If you want to know about the much-discussed enthusiasm gap between Democratic and Republican bases, in other words, this was it in action. As Jean Altomare told the New York Times, “We went in without any doubt about the importance of this. They handed us a pamphlet.” And Amanda Nelson added, “I didn’t expect I’d get to shake President Obama’s hand, but it was really shocking to me to find out that they really didn’t seem to care.”
Did I say I was impressed with these young women? I was more than impressed. Nobody I went to Harvard with would have handled it as powerfully as they did (maybe because they weren’t looking for a job in the White House someday). A few hot tears were the right response, followed by getting on with the work.
Our next question, out there on the sidewalk, was how to handle the situation — which, indeed, we had to do right away, because in today’s blog-speed world, you’re supposed to Put Out a Statement to reporters, not to mention Tweet. So how to play it?
The normal way is to claim some kind of victory: we could have said we had an excellent exchange of views and that the administration had taken seriously our plea. But that would have been lying, and at 350.org, we long ago decided not to do that. The whole premise of our operation, beginning with the number at its core, is that we had better always tell the truth about our actual predicament.
Alternatively, we could have rounded on the administration, and taken our best shot. In fact, it would have been easy enough right then and there for me to chain myself to the White House fence with the panel next to me. It would have gotten some serious press (though not as much as if I’d burned a Quran). And in fact, some of our supporters were counseling that I head for the fence immediately.
We got an email, for instance, from a veteran campaigner I deeply respect who said:
Show Obama you can’t be taken for granted, and I predict you will be amazed at the good things that come your way. This is a watershed moment: if they think they can get away with this with you, they’ll judge they can get away with more in the future. If you show them they can’t get away with it (at the very least without embarrassment), they will come your way more in the future. It’s power politics, pure and simple. This is how the game is played. Get their respect!And I think he was probably right. As he pointed out, Obama was even then on the phone with the mustachioed Florida geezer, the stack of Qurans, and the following of 50 or less. But I couldn’t do it, not then and there. Because… well, because on some level I’m a political wuss.
And a confession. We’d walked past Obama’s official portrait on the way out and, despite the meeting we’d just had, I couldn’t help but smile at the thought that he was president. I could remember my own enthusiasm from two years ago that had me knocking on doors across New Hampshire. I admired his character and his smarts, and if I admire them a little less now, the residue’s still there.
And so I couldn’t help thinking — part of me at least — like this: the White House political team has decided that if they put solar panels up on the roof, Fox News will use that as one more line of attack; that they somehow believe the association with Jimmy Carter is the electoral equivalent of cooties; and that, in the junior high school lunchroom that now comprises our political life, they didn’t want to catch any.
If that’s their thinking, I doubt they’re on the mark. As far as I can tell, the right has a far better understanding of the power of symbols. Witness the furor they’ve kicked up over “the mosque at Ground Zero.” My feeling is: We should use the symbols we’ve got, and few are better than a solar panel. Still, with the current craziness in mind, I was willing to give them a pass. So we just put out a press release saying that we’d failed in our mission and walked away.
At least for now, but not forever, and really not for much longer.
On Oct. 10, we’re having our great global work party, and ever since Obama stiffed us, registrations for its events have been soaring. Last week, with the heads of Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network, I issued a call for ideas about how to mount a campaign of civil disobedience around climate. Not a series of stunts, but a real campaign. At coal plants and drilling sites — and at the places where our politicians do their work.
Actually, I’ll be surprised if the White House doesn’t put up solar panels within a year. But even if they do, that would just be the barest of beginnings. We’ve run out of spare decades to deal with climate change — the summer’s events in the Arctic, in Russia, in Pakistan proved that with great clarity. I may be a wuss, but I’m also scientifically literate. We know what we need to do, and we will do it. Enthusiastically.
You know I’m joking right?
The corporatocracy (that includes Fox folks) won’t touch it. They’d rather we not know it’s true.
What they will do is turn this into a sound bite about how Obama’s “hostile” to business.
Thanks to Oliver Willis for putting together this list of Congressional “Democrats” who are working on behalf of the poor, downtrodden rich:
Rep. Jim Matheson (UT)
Rep. Gary Peters (MI)
Rep. Melissa Bean (IL)
Rep. Glenn Nye (VA)
Rep. Michael McMahon (NY)
Rep. Lincoln Davis (TN)
Rep. John Salazar (CO)
Rep. Brad Ellsworth (IN)
Rep. Dan Boren (IN)
Rep. Jim Himes (CT)
Rep. John Barrow (GA)
Rep. Ron Klein (FL)
Rep. Zack Space (OH)
Rep. Jason Altmire (PA)
Rep. Allen Boyd (FL)
Rep. Joe Donnelly (IN)
Rep. Jim Cooper (TN)
Rep. Frank Kratovil (MD)
Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC)
Rep. Earl Pomeroy (ND)
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ)
Rep. Jim Marshall (GA)
Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (SD)
Rep. Sanford Bishop (GA)
Rep. Mike Ross (AR)
Rep. Rick Boucher (VA)
Rep. Harry Teague (NM)
Rep. Travis Childers (MS)
Rep. Walt Minnick (ID)
Rep. Harry Mitchell (AZ)
Rep. Jim Costa (CA)
I live in Colorado so I’m zeroing in on Rep. John Salazar — Ken’s brother. Ken is Obama’s and the corporatocracy’s Secretary of the Interior.
When Obama appointed Senator Ken to that post, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter appointed Bill Bennet to fill his seat. As we speak, millionaire Bennet is second only to Arkansas’s Senator Blanche Lincoln in terms of “Democrats” who’ve received the most money from big oil.
And so it goes. They’re one big happy family in D.C.
Yo, Democrats and lefties (particularly the lefty Twittersphere): Christine O’Donnell raised $1 million since Tuesday:
The best spin coming from the Republican Party in the wake of Christine O’Donnell’s primary victory in Delaware this past Tuesday has been that a GOP already fueled with conservative enthusiasm is now even more energized.
Appearing on MSNBC Thursday afternoon, RNC Communications Director Doug Heye relayed that the committee had received a $10,000 donation on Wednesday “because they were excited about Christine O’Donnell’s win.”
Reports emerged shortly thereafter that O’Donnell herself raised more than $1 million online on Wednesday, a staggering total that could go a long way in a state like Delaware.
Her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, raised $125,000.
Then again, it seems that Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) raised roughly $500,000 in a “Cheddarbomb” (love that name) over the last few days.
This is serious folks. The O’Donnell phenomenon isn’t a new thing. It’s the 2010 version of the John Birch Society. Of Phyllis Schlafly, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Tony Perkins, Donald Rumsfeld, Ralph Reed and Dick Cheney.
This would what Republican / Tea Partier Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) told Bloomberg Businessweek:
…his goal for the Senate is “complete gridlock” and that he wants to stop programs that violate his anti-Big Government ideology. “What happens in the Senate is the Republicans sink to the lowest common denominator,” he says, taking a quick break between TV appearances.
Got to hand it to him for his candor.
Folks, 1 in 7 Americans are living in poverty. Now is not the time for “gridlock” and for the “lowest common denominator” for God’s sake. Seems to me we’re already at the “lowest common denominator.” How much lower can we, or do we want, to go?
There is so much crazy talk coming out of the right these days — I could spend all my time posting about it but this one is so extreme I thought I’d take the time to put it up.
It comes from Glen Urquhart, the Tea Party, Family Research Council endorsed candidate for the Delaware State House of Representatives. This is Urquart at an event in late May:
Do you know, where does this phrase separation of Church and State come from? Does anybody know? … Actually, that exact phrase was not in Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. He was reassuring them that the federal government wouldn’t trample on their religion. The exact phrase ‘separation of Church and State’ came out of evil Hitler’s mouth, that’s where it comes from. Next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State ask them why they’re Nazis.
There are no words.
If people actually knew their history in this country, a guy like Urquhart would be laughed off the stage.