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May 5, 2015

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What happened to Obama in Vegas


Steve Marcus

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman greets President Barack Obama at McCarran International Airport on Monday, Oct. 24, 2011.

Obama arrives in Las Vegas

Air Force One comes in for a landing at McCarran International Airport Monday Oct. 24, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Obama Speaks on Jobs and Housing

President Barack Obama walks with, from left, Jose Bonilla, Lissette Bonilla and their children Margarita Bonilla, Franco Bonilla and Mario Bonilla before Obama spoke about the American Jobs Act on Oct. 24, 2011, in Las Vegas. Obama also announced a housing initiative to help homeowners with federally guaranteed mortgages refinance their homes. Launch slideshow »

I would love to know what went through President Barack Obama’s mind as he came to the door of Air Force One on Monday morning and looked down at the McCarran International Airport tarmac.

Standing below him was not the usual receiving line of Democratic politicians but a solitary elected official — and one who had abandoned the Democratic Party. As if to add insult to absence, the lone woman’s husband had mercilessly excoriated the president for a couple of years, demanding an apology for remarks he had made about Las Vegas and snubbing him on previous trips.

Somehow, Obama kept his smile as he walked down from the plane and greeted Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who along with her husband, former Mayor Oscar Goodman, had made a big show of switching from Democrat to independent when His Honor was making a big show about pretending to think about running for governor last year. Goodman II, clutching her cellphone in one hand, bent the president’s ear for several minutes — there was no one else for him to talk to — handing the commander in chief a “good luck” chip and asking him to say nice things about Las Vegas.

How the mighty have fallen.

This is what it has come to for the man who created a Nevada wave in 2008, winning the state by 12 percentage points, pulling Democrats up and down the ticket to victory and auguring Harry Reid’s stunning re-election two years later. Obama previously had been greeted by Democrats high and low at the airport, many of them only too eager to shake hands with the president and perhaps ride in the motorcade. Now, the most powerful man in the world is treated like he is arriving on a quarantined plane, a political leper shunned by those who once embraced him — nay, by those he gave political life to just a few years ago.

Obama arrived in a devastated state to present a housing plan that probably won’t help many of those underwater on their homes in the worst economy in the country, only to be greeted by a mayor whose husband he surely despises and who hectored him (once again) about his much-overblown “don’t come to Vegas” remarks.

Other than that, Mr. President, how was the trip?

(Well, there was the money he raised at the Bellagio, the house that Steve Wynn built. You know, Mr. Wynn, don’t you, Mr. President? He’s the fellow all over Fox News and virally on the Internet saying you have been more destructive to business in America than that comet was to the dinosaurs way back when.)

Obama’s Nevada problem is a microcosm of his national problem. Here’s a place that was full of hope for change in 2009 but now is mired in hopelessness, and not much has changed for a couple of years. The president who won here by 12 is now underwater almost as much as some of those mortgages he wants to fix — Public Opinion Strategies found his job approval at 45/52 a year ago and 42/55 a few weeks ago.

Hence, the lack of smiles and handshakes on the tarmac. Oh, I’m sure Obama arrived at the Bellagio to be greeted by Democratic elected officials brimming with excuses. The traffic was a nightmare. The security folks told us we had to be at the Bellagio early. I didn’t know what time the plane landed.

Of course, running away from the president — or not having a photo taken with him in the next year — is a fool’s, or perhaps coward’s, errand for these Democrats. They will still get Velcroed to Obama if his numbers remain low — whether they are literally with him or photoshopped.

And the Republicans, here and nationally, will continue to remind people that the president once told people not to come to Vegas, thereby destroying the economy — even though that is a canard turned into hyperbole. In 2009, the president said companies that received federal bailouts “can’t go take that trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers’ dime.”

Totally reasonable statement, but latched onto by then-Mayor Publicity-At-Any-Cost and others. And, the president turned tone-deaf a year later and essentially doubled down on the remarks by telling people not to “blow a bunch of cash” here.

Once, Mr. President, despite what Jacqueline Susann said, is enough.

By the way, even though Democrats were scarce Monday, the other Goodman actually was on hand to welcome the president, just not in the flesh. Oscar Goodman made an appearance in a National Republican Senatorial Committee video, a clip of him from a couple of years back demanding the president apologize for remarks.

What’s said about Vegas is remembered in Vegas, even if it is, as another president might have put it, misremembered.

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  1. Enjoyed the article, Jon. It sure does seem President Obama does have political problems here in Las Vegas.

    It's still too early.

    And it's being revealed more and more that the Republican Party is losing the message with the people out here. (People can disagree with me, but I say they never had it to begin with.)

    There's a big difference that just came to light in Las Vegas though.

    President Obama unveiled his new initiative trying to help the people out here, "We Can't Wait."

    On the other side of the aisle at just about the same time, Perry unveiled the new Republican Party mantra of indifference and total neglect, "I Don't Care."

    The Party Of No has been laid to rest.

    They are now the Party Of I Don't Care.

  2. On his worst day Obama has more to offer this country than any of the insane Republicons,...and even the Republicons know it.

  3. Chunky says:

    Obama, like most other politicians on either side of the aisle over promise and under deliver.

    That's what Chunky thinks!

  4. President Obama dropping by to hawk yet another one of his bs bailout plans that do nothing to help the people of Las Vegas is pretty much par for the course.......get used to it......

  5. Well Jon,
    Maybe he should have just joined the Occupy Las Vegas group. His Jobs bill is not popular, substituting temporary public service jobs and making Social security cuts to pay for them, and his housing idea sets the stage for a new round or repossessions and abandoned property. As a traditional Democrat I am dismayed by this display of ill conceived ideas presented in an effort to "do something". Doing nothing may make more sense.

  6. At least we aren't as rude to paying guests. Oh, wait, the Feds hold 90% of Nevada's land, is the state's 2nd largest employer after local governments and the MGM, and can affect Nevada's growth, so they are, in that sense, important to our future after all.

  7. It was illogical to elect a man with absolutely no experience to be President. It would be illogical
    to reward absolute failure with a second term.

  8. I would like to see the Las Vegas Convention
    Authority's comments on whether or not Obama's
    twice cited Vegas digs didn't cause us to lose
    needed convention business. Seems to me that
    Oscar Goodman and others stated this very thing
    a couple of years ago.

  9. OK, so he's in trouble. Here's the stone cold truth: There's not one Republican candidate out there who stands even the slightest chance of winning the presidency in 2012. The right-wing nuts have taken over the GOP...

  10. Bravo, Mr. Ralston.

    The President hasn't led on housing (doesn't really understand the problem), on financial regulatory reform (supported a worthless bill, which didn't really change the risk profile of banks), on tax reform (scared to take a position), and like his friend Harry Reid basically believes we're light on "public sector jobs." Hmm. Yes, yes. That's really the problem. Not enough of those high paying federal employment opportunities.

    And the tarmac is empty. And the Nevada independents who -- while unaffiliated with either party, are basically free market oriented people who believe in free enterprise and people taking care of themselves -- Nevada independents will abandon him in 2012. So Nevada returns to the red.

    Maybe the President should take that chip and place it on the table, since he's going to need some lady luck to have Nevada's electoral votes the next time around.

  11. He's toast and all of the liberal - socialist - career politicians know it, and unless he's totally blind, Barry knows it too.

  12. Forget Obama. I would love to know what was going through Carolyn and Oscar's minds. Hard to tell if they're just hypocrites or hypocrites AND suck ups.

  13. Fact is that many events moved out of Las Vegas due to Obama's comments. And remember it was not just once that he slammed Las Vegas, it was TWICE! Go back and see how the companies paid cancellation fees and moved to more expensive cities not to deal with negative comments.
    Bush created issues with the economy, with a War in Iraq where the USA is not getting any more oil than they did before going to war.
    Romney has not produced a real plan on taxes or with anything that anyone can really take a look at. Credit to Cain - no matter how messed up both his and Perry's tax plan is towards the lower and middle class - at least they have put something forward.
    It was just so hard to get Obama to admit that he was wrong to slam Las Vegas, that is the part that is hard to get over. The LVCVA is not going to make it clear about all that was lost as they dont want to get political. Fact is that he hurt Las Vegas and no other President has ever said things about an American city that would harm their business. This hurt citizens wages at a time that no one could afford to be hurt at. Meanwhile , Harrahs Management gets paid for their cost cutting. So rich got richer, middle management cut or forced to take massive salary cuts to keep their jobs. Here is a nice bonus check to the Harrahs boys who already pull in 6 figure salaries. It is not the banks in Las Vegas that are killing local workers - it is the casino business where there is more than ever a have vs have not mentality when it comes to wages. Blame Bush or Obama for letting this all play out. Obama needs to apologize a lot more for his comments than the small phrases that he has put out there. Lets get a national debate in Vegas and see how he handles it when a Republican asks him about how he feels about Las Vegas. That is what I am hoping to see, as the ads are ready for Nevada to be run by the republican candidate. How will Obama earn voters trust here after these comments after Nevada helped to get him elected?

  14. Obama's biggest problems have come from lack of experience--not knowing when to rise above the fray and when to roll up his sleeves to get personally involved with an issue.

    Too early in his administration did he look presidental by listening to his advisors. Too late did he decide he couldn't leave it up to congress to get the job done.

  15. WoW Jon! Your article even brought the infamous John Chachas out of the woodwork for a comment! Very impressive!

    What's NOT impressive, is the Rs and Ds recent bickering and not providing ANY meaningful solutions to get our country back on its feet. Time to end the 2 party system and the Electoral College, which no longer serves US.

  16. Almost every article comment I read always comes back to a Republican or a Democratic view. When are you going to get a clue. It does not matter if you are Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Independent or whatever. Until the time that all Casinos return to FULL time employment the economy in Nevada is not going to move one inch in the positive.

  17. <<I love these comments about how there is ZERO chance of the Republican candidates being elected for President. BWU HA HA HA HA..... It's hard to imagine how so many of you libs are living in a fantasy land. Hmmmmm.... first there was the Govenors races in NJ and VA that went to the conservatives then there was Ted Kennedy's seat in MA (clunk).....then there was the total wipeout (er.... or was it a shellacking) just last November. You libs go on deluding yourselves about Obummer's chances next November. Word on the street is.......ABO,..... ANYBODY BUT OBAMA. My prediction is he'll get 43%>>

    Laugh all you want but right now, NONE of these Republicans have that "something special" to win the presidency. There is no spark. No one has come up with any good ideas, just the SOS. Maybe one of them has "it" but they spend soooo much time yapping about making Obama a one-term president (and fighting amongst themselves), they forget to "sell" themselves to the American people with what THEY would do if elected President. So far, no one has come up with anything substantial. The only two worth listening to (because they are not the same old same old) is Cain and Paul; the rest are boring.

    Us so-called "libs" (btw - there are quite a few that are conservatives) are not the only ones living in a "fantasy land". Look in the mirror and you will see just one of many more living in a "fantasy land".

    Yeah... Obama - 43%

    AND.....Republicans - 30%
    Independents - 27%

  18. <<Oh teamster. You crack me up. You still haven't figured out what and who crashed the economy. The thought of a democrat president is exactly what crashed us. The very minute we knew that we were gonna get Hillary or Obama we CRASHED!>>

    LOLOLOL You're a hoot, tbvegas - and have a short memory! The housing market started to crash under Bush, the job market started tanking under Bush. And no matter WHO was running for president - Hillary, Obama, etc - at the time was not the reason why the economy tanked. As far as the economy crashing because Obama and Hillary were running - that's BS! You forget all the other Democrats running and I seem to remember a gaggle of Republicans seeking the nomination!

    If your assinine theory is correct - that the economy crashed with the thought of Obama and Hillary running and/or becoming president - why did John McCain lose??? Why wasn't HE elected?

  19. Most of y'all are discounting all the great things Obama has done. Let me help u recall: take down the most dangerous terrorist (no less than 5) in a two year period and bringing our troops home by Xmas. The president didn't pull Vegas into a bad economy. This all started with bush and the unnecessary war with Iraq. Which one war leads to another. Blame him.