HITTING LEFT WITH THE KLONSKY BROTHERS

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

At Netroots Nation

Frustration with the administration

That's what I found at the Netroots Nation conference in Minneapolis last week. Lots of mostly-young, progressive, media-savvy activists, union members, staffers and educators, pissed off and frustrated at the administration's perceived abandonment of their issues and values since 2008.

I almost felt pity for White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, whose speed rapped, scripted responses to tough questions from Kaili Joy Gray of the Daily Kos and from the audience, were often met with laughter and derision from hundreds of members of the Democratic base in attendance.
But Obama's advisers hope that between now and November 2012 the president can persuade this critical part of his base to turn out in droves again, and the wooing by aides was well under way Friday. "I promise he is as frustrated as you are," Pfeiffer told about 2,400 bloggers and activists attending the annual Netroots Nation conference. He assured them they were "a very important part of the coalition that got him here." -- CBS News
Of course, the overwhelming majority (80% to be exact) of the attendees still voice support for Obama. But the question is, how deep and how active that support will be by election time. 

At an education panel, NEA V.P. and former Utah teacher of the year, Lily Eskelsen told a crowd of progressive educators and activists:
"We have to hold this administration accountable, but we will get a choice between President Obama and our worst nightmare."  
But what she didn't explain was how the NEA leadership's endorsement of Obama, nearly 2 years out, without asking for or getting any commitments in return, is holding them accountable/ (See Lily's Netroots interview with Tom Hartman at http://lilysblackboard.org/). Other excellent ed panelists included: Jeff Bryant, Sabrina Stevens Shupe, Kevin Welner, and Rep. Judy Chu. Sabrina gave a great pitch for the upcoming Save Our Schools March, July 30th in D.C.
Jane Hamsher, blogging at Firedoglake, summed it up pretty well this way:
"If you had told me a year ago that a panel entitled “What to do when the President’s just not that into you” would be a love fest, and White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer would be greeted by booing and hissing, I would have said it was time to put down the crack pipe. But that is pretty much what happened."
Side story: I had to leave Netroots Friday afternoon and head back to Chicago. Sadly, I missed the whole scene with right-wing oinker Andrew Breitbart and his body guard fleeing to the elevator, being pursued  by aggressive bloggers who caught him trying to sneak in without paying.

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