OBAMA TELLS DEMS: ‘I’M NOT TIRED; I’M JUST GETTING STARTED’…. For all of President Obama’s high-minded rhetoric, policy remarks, and bipartisan appeals, it’s nice for Dems to occasionally hear the president put on his partisan hat once in a while. And his remarks last night in San Francisco at a DNC fundraising reception suggested Obama is hardly blind to the larger political context of his presidency.
“[I]t’s important for all of us to remember, even though it’s been almost a year [since the inauguration], what was happening in this country when we walked through that front door,” the president said. “Because, you know, people seem to have a sort of selective memory. People seem to forget, they seem to think that suddenly I was sworn in and there was this big financial crisis.
“So let’s just do a little walk down memory lane. We were facing an economic crisis unlike any that we’ve seen in our times. We were losing 700,000 jobs a month. Our financial system was on the brink of collapse. Economists of every political stripe we’re saying we might be slipping into the next Great Depression. And that’s why working with Nancy Pelosi and working with Harry Reid we passed boldly and swiftly a Recovery Act that’s made a difference in the lives of families and communities in every corner of the country.”
Obama also spent a little time talking about his detractors. “I want everybody to know we believe in a strong and loyal opposition,” he said. “I believe in a two-party system where ideas are tested and assumptions are challenged — because that’s how we can move this country forward. But what I reject is when some folks decide to sit on the sidelines and root for failure on health care or on energy or on our economy. What I reject is when some folks say we should go back to the past policies when it was those very same policies that got us into this mess in the first place.
“Another way of putting it is when, you know, I’m busy and Nancy is busy with our mop cleaning up somebody else’s mess — we don’t want somebody sitting back saying, ‘You’re not holding the mop the right way.’ Why don’t you grab a mop, why don’t you help clean up. ‘You’re not mopping fast enough.’ ‘That’s a socialist mop.’ Grab a mop — let’s get to work.”
But the heart of the speech was an appeal for supporters to stay engaged, fighting for the agenda after having fought for the campaign.
“I hope that the election was not just a fad,” the president said. “I hope that people didn’t just think, ‘Well, that’s done, that was fun, I really liked those posters.’ I need you guys to understand that what we’re trying to do is hard. And I want you to be excited by that. I want you to be energized by that. Because if it was easy it would have already been done. If it was easy it wouldn’t have been worth all the effort to get here.
“And I want everybody to know who are standing in the way of progress: I’m not tired. I’m just getting started. You can throw whatever you want at me — keep it coming, we’re going to get this done.”
One of the disheartening part of post-election governing — and this applies to practically every administration — is the familiar pattern. Presidents take office with high hopes, governing proves difficult, supporters get discouraged and start to walk away. This occurs instead of seeing activists stay in the fight, engage in activism, and leaning on Congress.
To keep Democrats motivated and in the game, my sense is the president should probably deliver more speeches like this one.