NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

President Obama arrives in Seattle for first (and maybe only) visit of 2011

Fol­low­ing a four and a half hour cross coun­try flight from Joint Base Andrews, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma touched down in the real Wash­ing­ton late this morn­ing to begin a mul­ti-day Left Coast fundrais­ing tour.

This is Oba­ma’s third offi­cial vis­it to the Ever­green State as Pres­i­dent; he made two trips out here last year (in August and Octo­ber) on behalf of Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray, who defeat­ed peren­ni­al Repub­li­can office-seek­er Dino Rossi in the state’s Novem­ber 2010 U.S. Sen­ate con­test. (Rossi has since dis­ap­peared from pub­lic view).

Air Force One lands at Boeing Field

Air Force One tax­ies to the tar­mac at Boe­ing Field fol­low­ing a cross-coun­try flight from Joint Base Andrews. (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Oba­ma was greet­ed at Boe­ing Field by Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire, King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine, and Seat­tle May­or Mike McGinn, along with U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Norm Dicks. After talk­ing with them for a cou­ple min­utes, Oba­ma jogged over to shake hands with the assem­bled wel­com­ing com­mit­tee — a crowd of about fifty or so peo­ple behind met­al bar­ri­cades next to the press ris­er.

One child even got a high-five.

President Obama waves

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma waves to the crowd at Boe­ing Field after land­ing in Seat­tle to begin his third trip to Wash­ing­ton State. (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Oba­ma then climbed into the pres­i­den­tial lim­ou­sine (nick­named “The Beast”) and his motor­cade took off for his first fundrais­ing event in Med­i­na — a brunch at for­mer Microsoft exec­u­tive Jon Shirley’s res­i­dence.

The brunch drew six­ty-five peo­ple, we’re told. Assum­ing at least thir­ty cou­ples paid $35,800 to get in, that means the event raised at least $1,074,000.

Among those in atten­dance: Bill Neukom, the San Fran­cis­co Giants gen­er­al man­ag­er; Jim Sine­gal, CEO of Cost­co, and Ger­ald Grin­stein, strate­gic direc­tor Madrona Ven­ture Group, pre­vi­ous­ly CEO of Delta.

In his remarks to donors at the event (which took place in what was described to NPI as an “airy, vast rec­tan­gu­lar space, like enter­ing a wing at a con­tem­po­rary art muse­um”, Pres­i­dent Oba­ma warned that Amer­i­ca can­not afford to elect a Repub­li­can as pres­i­dent. Doing so would ush­er in “an approach to gov­ern­ment that would fun­da­men­tal­ly crip­ple Amer­i­ca in meet­ing the chal­lenges of the 21st Cen­tu­ry,” he said. Oba­ma point­ed to the ongo­ing bud­get debate in Con­gress as part of “a con­stant ide­o­log­i­cal push­back” that he has had to deal with since his inau­gu­ra­tion.

“It is not just a nation­al cri­sis it is an inter­na­tion­al cri­sis that we’ve been man­ag­ing for the last three years,” the Pres­i­dent reflect­ed. “Domes­ti­cal­ly, we still have a lot more to do to heal this econ­o­my and to deal with some of the struc­tur­al prob­lems that exist­ed even before the finan­cial cri­sis hit.”

“My hope when I came into office that was because we were in cri­sis that the oth­er side would respond by say­ing now is the time for all of us to pull togeth­er,” he said. “That was not the deci­sion they made so from the moment I took office what we’ve seen is a con­stant ide­o­log­i­cal push­back against any kind of sen­si­ble reforms that would make our econ­o­my work bet­ter and give peo­ple more oppor­tu­ni­ty.”

He added, “We’re see­ing it even now. As we speak there’s a debate going on in Con­gress about whether dis­as­ter relief fund­ing should be grant­ed as part of the over­all bud­get to keep the gov­ern­ment open.”

“What makes it worse is that some of the Repub­li­cans who are oppos­ing this dis­as­ter relief it’s their con­stituents who’ve been hit hard­er than any­one by these nat­ur­al dis­as­ters.”

The Pres­i­dent said his mes­sage to Repub­li­cans is sim­ple: “I’m pre­pared to work with you but these games have to stop.”

He end­ed his remarks by talk­ing about the upcom­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

“This is going to be espe­cial­ly hard because a lot of peo­ple are dis­cour­aged and a lot of peo­ple are dis­il­lu­sioned. … But I’m deter­mined because there’s too much at stake. The alter­na­tive, I think, is an approach to gov­ern­ment that would fun­da­men­tal­ly crip­ple Amer­i­ca in meet­ing the chal­lenges of the 21st Cen­tu­ry and that’s not the kind of soci­ety that I want to bequeath to Malia and Sasha, and your chil­dren and your grand­chil­dren.”

The Pres­i­den­t’s remarks last­ed about ten min­utes, we’re told. After spend­ing less than an hour in Med­i­na, the motor­cade depart­ed the East­side and swept onto State Route 520 for a ten minute trip to Seat­tle’s Para­mount The­ater, where eigh­teen hun­dred sup­port­ers had gath­ered for a fundrais­ing lun­cheon.

CONTINUED: At the Para­mount, the Pres­i­dent was intro­duced by by Bill Rus­sell and Lenny Wilkens, two of the Seat­tle Super­Son­ics’ most pres­ti­gious alum­ni.

The Pres­i­dent had to say thank you a grand total of six times before the enthu­si­as­tic Democ­rats in the audi­ence were will­ing to take their seats.

Due to a tech­ni­cal prob­lem of some kind, the Pres­i­dent was unable to use the teleprompter that had been set up onstage to give his address. But he did­n’t seem to need it. He thanked Rus­sell and Wilkens, rec­og­nized Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire, and sev­er­al of the state’s U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, includ­ing Norm Dicks, Jay Inslee, and Jim McDer­mott. (Nei­ther Pat­ty Mur­ray nor Maria Cantwell was in atten­dance, or else they would like­ly have received a shout-out as well).

The Pres­i­dent wast­ed almost no time in issu­ing a con­dem­na­tion of Repub­li­cans’ views on the econ­o­my, cas­ti­gat­ing the right wing for con­tin­u­ing to sup­port an agen­da that has clear­ly failed Amer­i­ca.

“The ques­tion is not whether this coun­try has been going through tough times,” the Pres­i­dent said. ” The ques­tion is where are we going next. ”

“We can either go back to the same ideas that the oth­er sides is ped­dling — old worn-out ideas that were tried through­out the last decade, where cor­po­ra­tions get to write their own rules, and those of us who’ve been most for­tu­nate get to keep all our tax breaks, and we aban­don our com­mit­ment to car­ing for the vul­ner­a­ble, and we aban­don our com­mit­ment to invest­ing in the future and invest­ing in infra­struc­ture and invest­ing in edu­ca­tion and basic research — or we can build an Amer­i­ca that we talked about in 2008.”

Oba­ma then began high­light­ing some of the accom­plish­ments of his pres­i­den­cy. He remind­ed the audi­ence that his admin­is­tra­tion suc­cess­ful­ly res­cued the auto indus­try (in 2009, GM and Chrysler were on the verge of col­lapse, but were saved by the tax­pay­ers).

He also tout­ed sev­er­al key pieces of leg­is­la­tion he has signed into law: the  Lily Led­bet­ter Fair Pay Act, the Patient Pro­tec­tion and Afford­able Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill, and repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

Much of his speech con­sist­ed of a pitch for the Amer­i­can Jobs Act, intro­duced dur­ing a joint address to Con­gress ear­li­er this month. Oba­ma wants the bill passed imme­di­ate­ly, but House Repub­li­cans have sig­naled they want to bury it, because it does­n’t jibe with their rigid ide­o­log­i­cal views.

Those views, of course, do not reflect tra­di­tion­al Amer­i­can val­ues… and the Pres­i­dent was, thank­ful­ly, hap­py to point that out.

“This notion that the only thing to do to restore our pros­per­i­ty is to elim­i­nate envi­ron­men­tal rules, and bust unions, and make sure that we’re giv­ing tax breaks to the folks who are most for­tu­nate and tell every­body else that they’re on their own — that’s not who we are.  That’s not the sto­ry of Amer­i­ca,” Oba­ma said at one point.

The Pres­i­dent end­ed his remarks by try­ing to ral­ly the crowd.

“I need you guys to shake off any dol­drums.  I need you to decide right here and right now — and I need you to talk to your friends and your neigh­bors and your cowork­ers — you need to tell them, you know what, we’re not fin­ished yet.  We’ve got more work to do.”

“We are tougher than the times that we live in. We are big­ger than the small pol­i­tics that we’ve been wit­ness­ing. We are a peo­ple who write our own des­tiny, and it is ful­ly with­in our pow­er to write it once more.”

After step­ping away from the podi­um, the Pres­i­dent shook hands for sev­er­al min­utes before depart­ing the Para­mount. His motor­cade was on its way out of Seat­tle just twelve min­utes fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of his speech.

Motorcade pulls up to Air Force One

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and his entourage board Air Force One fol­low­ing their after­noon in Seat­tle and Med­i­na. (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

The pro­ces­sion of vehi­cles arrived at the Boe­ing Field tar­mac at 3:37 PM. By 3:48 PM, Air Force One was ready for take­off, though it did not depart imme­di­ate­ly, in order to keep the air­space clear for a Life­Flight that we under­stand was inbound to Har­borview Med­ical Cen­ter. Short­ly before four o’clock, Air Force One lift­ed off for a two-hour flight to San Jose, con­clud­ing the Pres­i­den­t’s vis­it.

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2 Comments

  1. The crowd was over 1800 peo­ple, not 800!!! Please cor­rect.

    I was there and it was won­der­ful.

    # by Bertha McDaniel :: September 26th, 2011 at 10:13 AM
    • Cor­rect­ed.

      # by Andrew :: September 28th, 2011 at 6:06 PM

One Ping

  1. […] Pres­i­dent Oba­ma arrives in Seat­tle for first (and maybe only) vis­it of 2011 […]

    Ping from Morning Rundown for September 26th, 2011 :: September 26th, 2011 at 10:11 AM