Las Vegas mayor: Obama is “a real slow learner”; Update: Reid questioning Obama’s patriotism?

posted at 11:36 am on February 3, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman lambasted Barack Obama yesterday after Obama made a reference to his city in a speech demanding better fiscal discipline earlier in the day. A year ago, Obama raised Goodman’s ire by demanding an end to expensive corporate meetings in Las Vegas, but smoothed things over with an apology and a clarification. This time, Goodman says an apology won’t cut it and that Obama has proven himself to be “a real slow learner” (via Gateway Pundit):

“I guess you’ve all seen the president’s remarks or read about the president’s remarks, well I’ve got some remarks of my own. I was back in Washington, D.C. about two weeks ago, going up and down the halls of the capitol telling people about our economy here, trying to get them to be sympathetic to what we’re trying to accomplish, then I have to read what President Obama said.

“He has a real psychological hang up about the entertainment capitol of the world. An apology won’t be acceptable this time, I don’t know where his vendetta comes from but we’re not going to let him make his bones by lambasting Las Vegas, that’s why (the press) is here today.

“He didn’t learn his lesson the first time, but when he hurt our economy by his ill conceived rhetoric, we didn’t think it would happen again, but now that it has I want to assure you, when he comes I’ll do everything I can to give him the boot back to Washington and to visit his failures back there.

“I gotta tell you this, everybody says I shouldn’t say it, but I gotta tell you the way it is. This president is a real slow learner.”

I find myself in the odd position of defending Obama on this score.  His speech contained very clear conditionals (emphases mine):

When times are tough, you — you tighten your belts.  You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage.  You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.

Well … yeah.  Maybe Obama would have been better advised to keep it generic by saying “in the casinos” rather than “on Vegas”, but otherwise, this is only remarkable for its banality.  You’d hear the same kind of advice from your parents, and probably would have rolled your eyes at its obvious nature.

Just as obviously, Las Vegas doesn’t need any more negative connotations on its gambling business in this tough economy.  In that sense, it’s difficult to blame Goodman for overreacting after last year’s Obama scolding, which really was ill-informed. Goodman won’t lose any popularity points by blasting Obama again, at least not in Las Vegas itself.

But the man who will pay most will be Harry Reid, who has spent the past year carrying Obama’s water on Capitol Hill.  He can’t win re-election without a huge turnout in Sin City and a big spread.  If Obama becomes unpopular in Las Vegas, Reid’s re-election will become an impossibility rather than the improbability it is at the moment.

And of course, Mayor Goodman diagnoses Obama perfectly by calling him “a slow learner” — but does so on the wrong grounds.

Update: Obama clarified his remarks today in a letter to Reid:

After sparking a firestorm of criticism from Nevada’s elected officials for suggesting that people saving money for college shouldn’t blow it in Las Vegas, Obama told U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a letter that he wasn’t saying anything negative about Las Vegas.

It was the second time since taking office that Obama singled out Las Vegas as a potential example of spending excessively.

“I was making the simple point that families use vacation dollars, not college tuition money, to have fun,” Obama said, according to the letter released by Reid’s office. “There is no place better to have fun than Vegas, one of our country’s great destinations.”

Do you think Nevada Democrats are feeling the pressure?  Rep. Shelley Berkley unloaded on Obama, too, while Reid wondered whether Obama would prefer Americans spend their money in other countries:

“Enough is enough!” Democratic Congresswoman Shelley Berkley said in a statement. “President Obama needs to stop picking on Las Vegas and he needs to let Americans decide for themselves how and where to spend their hard-earned vacation dollars.”

Nevada’s tourism has been hit hard during the past two years as consumers everywhere tighten leisure spending and companies spend less on meetings and conventions.

Reid, one of Obama’s closest allies, issued a statement headlined “Reid to Obama: ‘Lay off Las Vegas’” and was unusually blunt in his reaction.

“The President needs to lay off Las Vegas and stop making it the poster child for where people shouldn’t be spending their money,” Reid said. “I would much rather tourists and business travelers spend their money in Las Vegas than spend it overseas.”

So now Reid is questioning Obama’s patriotism?  Talk about running off the rails!  I know Reid needs to distance himself from Obama, but that’s just ridiculous hyperbole.


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…Vegas…mortgage boom…it was all gambling. I know. I was on the front lines.

john1schn on February 3, 2010 at 11:34 PM

Obie should not be defended. He was not misunderstood. Once again, he was picking winners and losers and telling us how to spend what little is left of our money after he has ruined the economy.

HellCat on February 4, 2010 at 12:01 AM

You build your entire economy on tourism, which is dependent upon disposable income–not just any tourism, but gambling and prostitution at that–build your entire reputation around it until your city becomes a byword for it worldwide. And then you have to cry about that line from Obama?

I’ll give you that the guy’s a slow learner, but y’all are the ones that made that bed you’re in.

TexasDan on February 4, 2010 at 12:01 AM

I wonder how much of this is Obama’s Muslim roots? Gambling is not permitted in Islam.

I live in Vegas and Obambi is finished here.

Mojave Mark on February 4, 2010 at 12:47 AM

I live in Vegas and Obambi is finished here.

Mojave Mark on February 4, 2010 at 12:47 AM

So do I, Mark. Isn’t tHe Won supposed to be here for a Reid fundraiser in a couple weeks? With the Tea Party crowd we have in this town, this visit should be quite an event. Not to mention ‘Cuda’s visit to Searchlight on March 27!

Fishoutofwater on February 4, 2010 at 2:57 AM

Slow learner? Yeah I guess that’s another way of describing a Marxist fanatic.

MaiDee on February 4, 2010 at 6:34 AM

Slow learner = hits the ground running, ready on day one.

Scrappy on February 4, 2010 at 7:07 AM

Slow learner, maybe…Las Vegas is everything any commie would hate. It’s a place people bring EXTRA money to have a good time with. That instead of everyone having equal amounts of money, and having a good time instead of serving the all powerful state. The commies like Maobama are certainly slow in learning the people of the United States are really waking up to what the Dem party now is: The Fascist/Socialist Party that no one wants……

adamsmith on February 4, 2010 at 7:18 AM

This is funny, especially after the “retarded” comment by Rahm. Apparently, a number of special needs kids have grown up and went into democratic politics. Imagine Forrest Gump looking around at the assembled Obama crew and saying, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

archer52 on February 4, 2010 at 8:15 AM

“I gotta tell you this, everybody says I shouldn’t say it, but I gotta tell you the way it is. This president is a real slow learner.”

I think Rahm has a interesting characterization for this state of “learning”……

ted c on February 4, 2010 at 8:39 AM

Just for fun, how about the RNC having the convention in Vegas?

+1

funky chicken on February 4, 2010 at 8:59 AM

Mojave Mark hits the bullseye with the comment about Muslim’s don’t gamble, unless it’s a horse or camel race, then it’s ok. They do gamble just not the same way we do in a casino. Maybe Barry will visit one when he goes to throw Reid his life preserver. If he wins, we can truly call him the Won.

Kissmygrits on February 4, 2010 at 9:42 AM

So do I, Mark. Isn’t tHe Won supposed to be here for a Reid fundraiser in a couple weeks? With the Tea Party crowd we have in this town, this visit should be quite an event. Not to mention ‘Cuda’s visit to Searchlight on March 27!

Fishoutofwater on February 4, 2010 at 2:57 AM

I live in Vegas too, been here 30 years.

You build your entire economy on tourism, which is dependent upon disposable income–not just any tourism, but gambling and prostitution at that–build your entire reputation around it until your city becomes a byword for it worldwide. And then you have to cry about that line from Obama?

I’ll give you that the guy’s a slow learner, but y’all are the ones that made that bed you’re in.

TexasDan on February 4, 2010 at 12:01 AM

Las Vegas was founded on gambling and even before all this growth was known all over the world for its casinos and shows. The mob kept a tight rein on growth, but the federal government seeing tax dollars lost forced them out and now we have corporations running everything. People like Steve Winn had a vision and 20 years ago began the transformation that has become the Las Vegas of today.

All of these mega resorts brought more and more people here creating a need for housing and other infrastructure that cost money and changed the dynamics of the town. Talk of broadening the tax base and diversifying the economy began then. Lots of other industries and business have come here but the truth is that the current population cannot be sustained by those industries alone.

Many cities are dependent on a single industry. Detroit died with the auto industry. Pittsburgh is suffering because of the loss of the steel industry. Many cities throughout the country are floundering due to the loss of manufacturing plants. It’s ridiculous to blame the people of Las Vegas because current economic conditions have hurt us hard. We are no different that people everywhere making a living and supporting our families.

The people who made the bed in which we found ourselves are not the people who are suffering from this economy and the president’s irresponsible remarks.

To some it may seem feigned outrage but we know that hundreds of conventions were canceled after his last remark. He shouldn’t have singled out Vegas, it will hurt our economy even further.

Jvette on February 4, 2010 at 10:20 AM

‘Bout TIME someone called a spade a shovel!

Katfish on February 4, 2010 at 6:35 PM

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