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Yes, the base matters: Pelosi to speak at Netroots Nation

Good news: I'm told that Nancy Pelosi will be heading out to Las Vegas to speak at Netroots Nation next week.

Here's why this is important: Now that Harry Reid has also agreed to attend, for the first time, the leaders of both the House and Senate Dems will be making the pilgrimage together to the netroots gathering in the same year.

There's been a ton of chatter, much of it justified, that the Dem establishment in D.C. and the White House has largely taken the Dem base for granted since 2008. But the fact that Pelosi and Reid are attending Netroots Nation at the same time signals a recognition that the online Dem base will play a critical role in Dem efforts to hold the House and Senate.

Also: In another sign the Dem establishment is taking steps to demonstrate seriousness about the base, the executive directors of the DNC (Jennifer O'Malley Dillon), the DCCC (Jon Vogel) and the DSCC (J.B. Poersch) will also attend a Netroots Nation panel discussion.

There have been some pretty severe tensions between the Beltway Dem establishment and the netroots of late, most visibily in the wake of the Pennsylvania and Arkansas Senate primaries. One can only hope that the trip of high profile establishment Dems to Netroots Nation is more than a mere gesture and signals a serious and sustained effort to patch things up and to speak to the base in advance of this fall's elections.

By Greg Sargent  |  July 14, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  House Dems , Senate Dems  
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Next: Harry Reid's dilemma: He can't talk about John Ensign scandal


It's all fun and games until somebody loses a House of Congress.

It's time to work TOGETHER.

To fight for the AGENDA that unites us.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 14, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, Ethan, though I would like to see some feet held to fires over supporting Blanche against Halter. That can be done constructively: don't interfere in legitimate primary challenges. Let the primary play out without protecting incumbents for the sake of incumbency.

Pelosi continues to be the best of the best here.

Posted by: BGinCHI | July 14, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Greg, booman mentions you here, agreeing that Republicans are benefiting. He does make the case that losing some seats in both the House and Senate are not necessarily bad and to be expected. But both yesterday and today he is for unifying Dems around a sustained majority and like many of us here not willing to just roll over and let the GOP have the keys back.

And here's hoping some good comes from netroots this year, glad Pelosi will be there.

"Greg Sargent and I are in complete agreement that the Republicans’ strategy of saying ‘no’ to everything is working beautifully for them. It can be seen in any number of polls, testing any number of public attitudes. People are pissed off at the government and they’re unusually ticked -off with their own representatives. Most representatives are Democrats, so they are more at risk. The more risk they feel, the more skittish they become, and our unity is diminished, making it even easier to block or water down the president’s agenda.

The anger does not appear to be ideologically consistent or focused. While the health care bill is increasing in popularity it still has a net-negative rating. On the other hand, more than 60% of the people want the government to extend unemployment benefits. There’s anxiety that the government is doing too much and that it is not doing enough.

But there is a story to be told that’s positive. I’ll keep telling it, because too few others seem to be willing to do so. We can keep our losses manageable, and even leverage them into a two-term presidency and better quality majorities in the second-term. But we put that all at risk by naval-gazing and failing to understand what the Party of No strategy is meant to do, and why it is working."

Posted by: lmsinca | July 14, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Also, there are reports from yesterday that Pelosi wasn't too happy with Gibbs' statement on Sunday.

"Pelosi reportedly said Gibbs’ comments were particularly damaging because they give ammunition to Republicans trying to make the case that Democrats are going to lose in November. “Someone from the White House says it, and [House Minority Whip Eric] Cantor says it, so now you have both sides saying something,” the source said. “So she was very upset.”

Posted by: lmsinca | July 14, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse


It seems that BP's latest effort is going hinky, too.


Rahm should get his miserable as* over to the netroots convention. Far more than Congress, and notwithstanding the Republicrats, the WH is the main problem for the Dems. I have concluded that Obama is simply a lousy politician, at least in the traditional mode. And when he went Party Regular once elected he abandoned his strengths and emphasized his weaknesses. Obama may turn out to be a great president anyway, and I certainly hope so, but this WH is politically clueless. Its messaging is disastrous. It has been utterly inept (Pelosi, as usual, is correct).

How's that for some morning cheer?

Posted by: wbgonne | July 14, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

From Greg's Morning Plum: "And Paul Krugman accuses McConnell of 'invincible ignorance' ..."

Krugman is being too kind.

McConnell is not ignorant. He knows what he's spouting is bullshit. He just doesn't care.

Posted by: jzap | July 14, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Favorite quote from the Krugman post:  "The facts really do have a well-known liberal bias."

Posted by: jzap | July 14, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

wbgonne, I'm sure Rahm would get an unusual reception at netroots to say the least. They'll try to bring the base back into the fold buy probably not until 2012, uggghhh.

Posted by: lmsinca | July 14, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I've been out of country but this was the first I heard of Netroots nation going on next week.

I'm pretty certain I hear 10x's more about CPAC or one of Beck's 9/12's loony toon gatherings.

What's up press and liberal blogs?

Complete failure at self promotion. You'd think liberal leaning blogs would have a bunch of banners and links to whomever is organizing this to get more people interested and involved....guess not.

And, do you think C-SPAN will cover the speeches like they do with CPAC and other right wing gatherings non stop on the radio? Who knows.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 14, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse


You're probably right about the WH playing the Base but that is a stupid strategy. Like you said: UGGGHHH! Wake up, President Obama!

Posted by: wbgonne | July 14, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"I have concluded that Obama is simply a lousy politician"

Cuz, god knows, it's so fricking easy for a black man to become POTUS when +40% of the country is racist.

Posted by: converse | July 14, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

mikefromArlington: That's a really good point. Public relations is half the game.

Posted by: wbgonne | July 14, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

It's sad. I can go to every single liberal blog and I don't think I'll see anything referencing this event.

I'm pretty certain that when CPAC is approaching, most if not all right leaning blogs are all self promoting their event.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 14, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

converse: You're something of a nasty cur, aren't you? And very good with reading comprehension either. IOW, not worth paying attention to.

Posted by: wbgonne | July 14, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I hadn't heard about Net Roots either, for what it's worth.

There's probably an inherent difference in two groups that have entirely different ideologies: CPAC and the right exist for the sake of spectacle (whose goal is power) and the left gathers to talk about working on governance and social issues.

You can guess which one is going to be more P. T. Barnum.

Posted by: BGinCHI | July 14, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

NOT "very good with reading comprehension"


Posted by: wbgonne | July 14, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

If the netroots is really the "dem base," how come we don't all have ponies?

Posted by: converse | July 14, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Right, I'm the "nasty cur", the one who consistently insults Obama. That would be you, I'm afraid. Typical spoiled kid--wants to dish it out, but can't take it.

Posted by: converse | July 14, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Gibbs' tone deaf statement is just the latest bit of evidence that the political people around Obama (and possibly the Pres himself) aren't as smart as they think they are. Here they are faced with a significant drop in contributions to the DCCC and DSSC from people like me who will no longer give to the enablers of the Blanche Lincolns and the Blue Dogs but only to individual candidates, and what do they do? Hand the GOP a line to take straight to lobbyists to drum up more contribs to the GOP!

I understand that Obama has to walk a fine line, but he needs to find a way to speak out in favor of his and the Dem Party's principles more often. With public anxiety about the economy and job losses, the GOP is handing him a gift with their demonization of the unemployed and genuflection before the very rich. And with the story today that there are more over-65s in the workforce than teens he needs to stop all this talk of extending the retirement age. We need to lower Medicare to 62 and make retirement more secure, not encourage older folks to keep working. If young people don't get a good start, they will never become part of the workforce, and that will be very destabilizing and hurt both our society and economy in the long run.

Posted by: Mimikatz | July 14, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

All, check this out, Harry Reid has a major dilemma on his hands:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 14, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

@wbg: I think that's a bit harsh re: converse's comment. The point is that Obama hasn't been using his political skills as effectively governing as he did while he was campaigning, which I think is true. Perhaps he should have included the "in the traditional mode" part of your comment.

Most of us here have pointed out lots of Obama's shortcomings in governing particularly ignoring/dissing the dem base and mainstream and catering to the most conservative part of the party. Politically, I don't think that this is a good move. But I don't think that Obama is not a good politician, he just isn't translating his political acumen to the perception of how he is governing and this is hurting him.

Posted by: srw3 | July 14, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse


Maybe. But anyone who pretends to be a Democrat and then mentions "ponies" is a fool. And this particular fool is nasty. Life is too short to waste time with idiots.

Posted by: wbgonne | July 14, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

You're just proving my point. Those who have the gall to call themselves "progressives" today get immediately defensive when their whining and unrealistic demands are pointed out to them. Any Democrat who has worked hard for change for forty years has every right to use the word "ponies" to characterize the unrealistic demands of nasty, name-calling, no-nothings like you who refuses to appreciate the real accomplishments of someone like Obama.

Posted by: converse | July 14, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

You are the moron who said that the country has become more "liberal" over those last 40 years. Right?

And those who have the "gall" to call themselves progressives are the future of the country and of the Democratic Party, once it awakens from the Republican-lite coma you applaud. You, like Rahm and the Republicrats, are the past and are a hindrance to progress. Go ride your pony into the sunset.

Posted by: wbgonne | July 14, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

If you had any concept of history or knowledge of economic facts, you'd know that federal funding for social welfare and job creation programs has increased tremendously in the U.S. over the past forty years, measured as a percentage of the federal budget and/or gdp. Sorry that you "progressives" don't understand the rudimentary definition of "progress."

WTF have you done for the good of the country?

Posted by: converse | July 14, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Sure spending has increased over "the last 40 years" i.e., since the passage and implementation of Medicare. But look at the expansion of payroll taxes going to pay for Social Security and Medicare. And the current retired generation is living a little bit longer, but the 1983 Social Security reforms took care of a good part of that. Medicare Part D, of course, was not funded at all, and only contributes to the deficit.

Job programs are a very tiny fraction of the budget and most of that comes as tax credits, so helpful to business. And remember welfare reform? Welfare is not what it used to be, which is another problem with the current recession.

Posted by: Mimikatz | July 14, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

netroots ≠ base…

Posted by: bbebop | July 14, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Not sure what your point is.

Federal taxes on the middle class as a percentage of personal income, including those for medicare and social security, are also at the lowest point that they've been in those forty years.

I thought the point was how whether or not the U.S. was more liberal, not whether or not we were running a high deficit.

Posted by: converse | July 14, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Greg, I got news for you. The Dem "base" will not be at the netroot nation conference in Vegas. That's one of the problems now with the progressive such a bubble that they sincerely believe they represent the Dem base....they dont even KNOW the dem base. The arrogance of what I can only describe as "the fauxgressives" is unbelievable. I mean seriously, it won't take a poll of the conference attendees to demonstrate how completely not representative of the "base" this conference will be.

Posted by: mlrice710 | July 14, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Reid attended the first conference (when it went under the name Yearly Kos) in 2006.

Posted by: alisar | July 18, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

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