National Council of La Raza Conference Liveblog
by Todd Beeton, Sun Jul 13, 2008 at 11:10:40 AM EDT
I'm here in San Diego to cover Barack Obama's and John McCain's appearances at the National Council of La Raza conference -- Barack today, McCain tomorrow. La Raza is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.
Barack will be speaking to the convention during their brunch in the convention center ballroom so we're here in the press room (I'm here with Lucas O'Connor of calitics) watching the proceedings on a big screen. The speakers so far have been representatives of some of the event's sponsors including Shell Oil and WalMart. Greaaaat. We just sat through a speech by WalMart CEO & president Lee Scott talking about how important it is that everyone gets "access to quality health care." Yes, he said it with a straight face.
Next up was AARP/Divided We Fail COO Tom Nelson who spoke about their Divided We Fail campaign, you know the one with the disturbing half donkey/half elephant mascot. The campaign pits "gridlock in Washington" as the enemy (not the Republicans who cause it, noooo, it's everyone's fault equally you see) and calls for cooperation between Republicans and Democrats to get things done in Washington. What a joke. This is a philosophy that is central to the Washington DC conventional wisdom and one that essentially grants amnesty to Republicans for the destruction they have wreaked on our country and their obstruction to any progress in advancing the agenda of the American people.
One perfect example of this disconnect was when one second Nelson was saying both parties need to work together and the next he spoke passionately about expanding access to health care:
Millions of people are afraid that they are just one illness away from financial disaster and bankruptcy. That is not good policy, certainly it is not fair policy. It needs to change and it needs to change now. Everyone in our country must have health coverage...whether we're talking about someone who works in a corner office or someone who cleans offices.
It's great that this sort of rhetoric is now mainstream and is the default position of non-partisan groups, but by saying the answer can only be reached once Republicans and Democrats come together completely ignores the fact that such a solution to the healthcare crisis is anathema to John McCain and the Republican Party overall. Nelson also said, again, with a straight face, that the candidates need to "tell us how they will protect Social Security." Well, that's easy, John McCain won't, in fact he thinks the program is a "disgrace." Yet through the Divided We Fail campaign, the AARP is advancing the idea that Republicans actually want to advance the AARP's agenda and should be a part of the solution. They don't and they won't be, which is why voters are rejecting them so completely. When is the rest of the conventional wisdom crowd going to catch on?
Barack will be up in a few minutes.