Liberal Bloggers, Activists Push Democrats For More Changes, Including Public Option
President Barack Obama made a surprise video appearance at Netroots Nation, a convention of about 2,000 liberal bloggers and activists in Las Vegas, trying to calm their frustrations that the Democratic administration and Congress have not achieved all the changes that progressives were hoping for, Miami Herald/McClatchy News Service report. The activists "think their Internet networks helped elect him in 2008 -- and Obama Saturday acknowledged their influence, referring to them as 'we' -- but they want to see a greater push in several areas, including health care, financial regulation, gay rights and other issues. ... 'He's done a lot, but we have to hold him to the standard he's held himself,' said Raven Brooks, the executive director of Netroots Nation. He and others cited a number of areas where they think more progress is possible, notably health care, where many liberals prefer the kind of government-run option that Pelosi and most House Democrats supported, but that stalled in the Senate."
Also at the convention was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "'I wish we had a public option,' he said of health care, but at least a major bill has passed. 'We're going to have a public option. It's a question of when,' Reid said" (Lightman, 7/24).
CBS News: "President Obama was happier on the evening health care reform finally passed out of Congress than on the night he won the presidential election, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told liberals at the Netroots Nation conference. After the president relayed those sentiments to her, Pelosi said she told him, 'If you weren't elected president of the United States, we wouldn't have gotten the job done.' The liberal bloggers at Netroots also played a critical role in passing the major reform package, she said -- 'although we had some differences of opinion.' The health care bill tops the list of issues that have left liberals conflicted about the Obama administration. Its passage was bittersweet for many liberals who were disappointed to see a 'public option' for health insurance left out" (Condon, 7/24).
The New York Times: "President Obama addressed today, via video, a gathering that included some of his earliest and most hard-core supporters from the 2008 campaign. But he yielded about a quarter of his four-minute message to Rachel Maddow, using edited clips of her MSNBC show to tout his administration's accomplishments over the past 18 months. That Mr. Obama had to defer to a voice that would be more credible with the crowd of wired, liberal activists at the fifth annual Netroots Nation conference in Las Vegas illustrates the growing frustration within the base of a Democratic Party that controls the White House and both houses of Congress. ... 'Change hasn't come fast enough for too many Americans. I know that,' Mr. Obama said. 'It hasn't come fast enough for me, either. And I know it hasn't come fast enough for many of you, who fought so hard during the election'" (Wheaton, 7/24).