As we all know, when Barack Obama was running as a candidate, he promised a more bipartisan tone when he came to Washington. The catch words “change” and “hope” were prevalent throughout the campaign and have now become sort of a caricature of themselves. But it appears that Mr. Obama’s new tone has started to reap some benefits in the great state of Nevada. Both the Republican Governor and the Democrat Mayor of Las Vegas finally agree on something: they’re both angry with Barack Obama!
Let’s go back a few months. In February, one of the new President’s first trips out of Washington was to Elkhart, Indiana, to promote the passage of his stimulus bill. Elkhart is home to manufacturers of RV’s and has been badly hurt by the economic downturn. During his speech to the workers in Elkhart, the President said this:
“You can’t get corporate jets. You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer’s dime.”
In a press conference the day after Mr. Obama’s speech, Mayor Oscar Goodman, a Democrat, said he was “hotter than fish grease.” In a letter to the President, he said,“The assumption that all meetings, events, and incentive travel (to Las Vegas) are wasteful is wrong. Now more than ever, we need businesses to travel and hold meetings and events.” But perhaps the Mayor’s concerns are premature. Could an offhanded comment to a group of RV factory workers really have an impact on an economy hundreds of miles away?
Well, since then, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, over 400 conventions and business meetings scheduled to take place in Las Vegas have cancelled. That translates to approximately $100 million to the Las Vegas and Nevada economy. And that’s before you count the gaming revenue. So it appears that the Mayor’s outrage was valid. Despite being very vocal about his outrage, there has been no response from the White House.
Now comes the announcement that Mr. Obama himself is planning a trip to Las Vegas! So despite his admonition that corporate America not take trips to Las Vegas on the public dime, that’s precisely what he’s doing. Well if the President has decided to contradict himself and go to Vegas, it must be for a good reason – national security, economic summit, something important, right? You decide. He’s going to Vegas to hold a fund-raiser for Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. Well it’s not exactly solving world hunger, but I guess it’s important. . .NOT!
So in the spirit of bipartisanship, the Republican Governor of Nevada, Jim Gibbons, has asked the President for some time to meet with him when he comes for his fund-raiser to talk about his comments. And in a spirit of bipartisanship, the President said, “No!” We know this because the Governor has outed the President in a statement he released yesterday:
“I am disappointed at the hypocrisy shown by this Administration. President Obama is coming to Las Vegas later this month for a political fundraiser, but he will not help the struggling families in Las Vegas and Nevada who are out of work because of his reckless comments. . .apparently our money is good enough for the President, but our tourism, jobs, and economic future are not. This is politics, pure and simple. President Obama stood for change, but all he has done is brought negative economic change to Nevada.” Ouch!
Sounds like the Mayor and the Governor are on the same page. So who can we turn to to ease the tension between Nevada officials and the White House? In these trying and stressful times, maybe we should remember the words of that wise man from the east, Deepak Chopra. I wrote about him a few months ago in an article called “Vacation is NOT a four letter word!” Mr. Chopra reminds us, “When you take that trip, you’re giving employment to the people who work in the airline industry. If you go to that restaurant, that waiter is going to get a tip. In fact, the more you circulate the money, the more you increase confidence and trust that everything is OK.” After all, isn’t that why we gave the money to bailout companies in the first place – to help stimulate the economy? Perhaps the Mayor and the Governor should just be grateful that the President has decided to lead by example and not challenge his “hypocracy.” After all, I’m sure people will realize that by going to Vegas, the President is simply saying, “Hey, that stuff about not going to Vegas? I was just kidding!”
The fact is people do listen to the President and do take him very seriously, especially those companies who have been helped by the bailouts. They have their corporate lives in the palm of his hands. The President needs to stop demonizing them for doing what he himself is doing and help out the people of Nevada and get this economy going.