Sunday, August 16, 2009

Did the Netroots "Mob" Jarrett?

Valerie Jarrett, Obama's long time confidant and now part of his administration, spoke at Netroots Nation yesterday and, well, let's let the HuffPo explain:
"I heard somebody shout out about the pictures," Jarrett replied. "Everybody knows what's in those pictures. And this is where it gets very delicate and I know it is a touchy subject for this audience. But what he is trying to balance as president, is keeping us safe, not giving ammunition to people who already have ample ammunition from what they've seen before to be adverse to us."

More shouts and protests followed. "I can't hear you," Jarrett said. "You know what you've got to do? You've got to figure out a way to get your question on here [pointing to the computer on stage that was receiving emails from questioners]. We are not going to have shout outs from the audience."

The moderator agreed. "This is not a town hall meeting like that," said Baratunde Thurston, of Jack and Jill Politics and The Onion. The crowd got the reference to the boisterous demonstrators at health care town halls. But they didn't stop. From the back of the room, someone shouted a question about why the private security contractor, Blackwater, was still being paid for work overseas.
Not surprisingly there doesn't seem to be any readily available video of this exchange, which might make for an interesting context piece beside the daily dose of mob rule being bloviated out by the mainstream media donkeys. Kos has a rough transcript though, and here are some clips:
Q president Obama is unflappably calm - has he ever lost it?
A I've never heard him raise his voice.

Q. Tea parties? How seriously does the President take it?
A. The reason he ran is to get away from that tone. They are trying to scare people, elderly people, and I am ticked. It's what we are fighting against, but they underestimate the American people. and media is not focusing on the productive debates we are having, it's not just raucus. we need retail help from you all.

Q. Is the President going to pull the Blue Dogs in and talk to them about what stimulus money they get and where their vote will be on health care?
A. I am convinced he is doing this right. He's going to count on you to put the pressure on. Trust me, it will work.

Q do you believe the birthers are crazy, racist, or crazy and racist?
A. This is nuts, but everybody gets to have a voice. it's hard to be patient, but this week we are talking about health care. Also, the misinformation people will become marginalized as we educate people.

Q why continue with Blackwater?
A. we're working on getting rid of no-bid contracts, but the point is we are only 6 months in and some things take time and we have to follow a process. The president is aware we have peoplerisking their lives for us and has to balance nat security with transparency, and I am asking you to trust him.
[most raucus response so far]

Q. what about paycheck fairness?
A. yes, it is an important issue we are following.
Not exactly sure what "most raucus (sic) response so far" means, although 'so far' suggests people were reacting raucously on previous answers, as HuffPo said. Surely the ensuing video will put things into better perspective. Somebody must have it.

Aside from the gotcha stuff, the question about Blue Dogs being read the riot act on health care based on the stimulus cash coming to their states was by far the most interesting to me. Her reply (which is a paraphrase from the Kos poster) "he's going to count on you to put the pressure on. Trust me, it will work." was somewhat illuminating, since the question obviously suggested the stimulus program might be some kind of stealth political extorsion scheme. Let's see, nutroots pressure or the cold harsh reality of voting districts? Sounds like a good wager.

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