Netroots Nation under a cloud

Indeed, enthusiasm for Obama was decidedly absent from this year’s gathering. Administration officials weren’t invited to attend (Valerie Jarrett and others have appeared in the past), and President Obama limited his role to an unpublicized surprise video shown to delegates late on Saturday, when many people had already left. “Change is hard, but we’ve seen that it’s possible, as long as you’re willing to keep up that fight, I’ll be right there with you,” Obama offered. Not exactly a stirring call to arms, and the tepid applause his video garnered can’t have pleased Team Obama…

Of course, it wasn’t all doom and gloom at Netroots Nation. There was no shortage of bravado and chest-thumping among liberals who are convinced they are the wave of the future. But having attended most of the Netroots Nation gatherings, I observed many fewer victory jigs than in previous years.

Indeed, when the Daily Beast asked Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas if he was worried about the level of despair at the conference, his reply was blunt: “The administration should be worried about the level of despair here.” Team Obama has only five months to fire up its base. If the White House hopes to win, it must inspire the die-hards to do much more than shuffle to the ballot box and cast a grudging vote for the incumbent.