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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 51

Why did the president give an extended interview to Rolling Stone? Perhaps it was part of his recent youth outreach, but if so, the White House staff miscalculated. When the president was in college, it was definitely a publication for the youngest adults, but no more. Seventy percent of its readers are age 25 and older. Moreover, the symbolism is bad. When General Stanley McChystal made impolitic remarks in the magazine a few months ago, Obama fired him. People may wonder why the general gets the boot while guy who ran the story gets the exclusive.

The interview comes to a remarkable conclusion:

One closing remark that I want to make: It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. There may be complaints about us not having gotten certain things done, not fast enough, making certain legislative compromises. But right now, we've got a choice between a Republican Party that has moved to the right of George Bush and is looking to lock in the same policies that got us into these disasters in the first place, versus an administration that, with some admitted warts, has been the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward.

The idea that we've got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible.

Everybody out there has to be thinking about what's at stake in this election and if they want to move forward over the next two years or six years or 10 years on key issues like climate change, key issues like how we restore a sense of equity and optimism to middle-class families who have seen their incomes decline by five percent over the last decade. If we want the kind of country that respects civil rights and civil liberties, we'd better fight in this election. And right now, we are getting outspent eight to one by these 527s that the Roberts court says can spend with impunity without disclosing where their money's coming from. In every single one of these congressional districts, you are seeing these independent organizations outspend political parties and the candidates by, as I said, factors of four to one, five to one, eight to one, 10 to one.

We have to get folks off the sidelines. People need to shake off this lethargy, people need to buck up. Bringing about change is hard — that's what I said during the campaign. It has been hard, and we've got some lumps to show for it. But if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place.

If you're serious, now's exactly the time that people have to step up.

Disclosure rules for 501 groups make definitive conclusions impossible at this point, and the picture could change as new reports come in, but so far there is reason to question the president's comment about campaign finance.