Barack Obama’s name barely came up as The New York Times summarized the hard-left Netroots Nation conference in Providence, Rhode Island. Sarah Wheaton reported “Last year’s conference was marked by the left’s frustration with the president. But this year, his name simply did not come up much — and when it did, it was invariably paired with a favorable comparison to Mr. Romney.”
But Obama did not appear, nor did any Obama surrogate. The president did send a video message vowing to “double down on green energy” (as if that’s been a winning gamble) and fight “gutting” education, blah blah blah. Strangely, he touted killing Osama bin Laden, which the Netroots surely saw as a massive human rights violation.
Wheaton tried to define the current state of the American Left as "Success, Interrupted," or so said the sub-headline:
By some measures, the left has had a successful year. There was Occupy Wall Street and the defeat of anti-union legislation in Ohio.
Social media campaigns restored financing to Planned Parenthood from the Susan G. Komen Foundation and eliminated much corporate money going to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative organization behind policies like the Stand Your Ground law at the center of the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.
An apparently improving economy combined with a hard-fought Republican primary race to ease worries about President Obama’s re-election.
But things have changed in the last few weeks.
The Scott Walker win and the advent of super PACS clearly depressed the Netroots. MRC intern Matthew Vespa transcribed Obama’s speaking parts:
OBAMA: Hi everybody. It’s hard to believe this is the fourth Netroots Nation of my presidency. That’s like 200,000 new cycles on Twitter. First and foremost, I just want to thank you.
Four years ago, we came together because we shared a simple belief that people who love their country can change it. And you have. I know it hasn’t always been easy . I know the petty political fights in Washington can be frustrating. Believe me I know that. But I hope you look back and think about the fact that everything that you did, step by step and day by day, has helped bring about the changes we fought for.
– Changes the health care reform we passed after a century of trying, reform that will finally ensure that in the United States of America no one will go broke just because they get sick. And that means millions of stories like this one:
[Then the Netroots got a two-minute film touting how a family in Englewood, Colorado can escape lifetime coverage caps for their son. The father said: “Our Constitution and the founding documents or our country talk about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and without health, you can’t have any of that.”]
And that’s just health care.
– Change is also doubling down on clean energy and enacting historic fuel efficiency standards, changing our entire trajectory after decades of inaction.
– Change is the fact that for the first time in history you don’t have to hide who you love to serve the country you love because Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is finally over.
– Change is keeping another promise I made in 2008. For the first time in nine years there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. And thanks to our brave men and women in uniform Osama bin Laden will never threaten us again.
That’s just a short list. I know some of you keep the full list on your blogs. Feel free to spread it around.
But we’ve got a lot of work to do, especially when it comes to getting our fellow Americans back to work. We’ve created 4.3 million new jobs over the past 27 months but we’ve got to keep at it until everyone who is out there, pounding the pavement, gets a job that pays the bills. What we can’t do is go back to the policies that got us into this mess in the first place.
What we won’t do is just cut taxes for millionaire and billionaires by gutting things like education and clean energy it’s time to move forward and build an economy where everyone has a fair shot at success. In this make or break moment for the middle class, we face our most important fight yet, and now is the time to dig deep. Change is hard, but we’ve seen that it’s possible, and as long as you’re willing to keep up that fight, I’ll be right there with you. Thanks.