Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Exhausted" Town Hall Questioner Still Supports President Obama

A lot of folks on the right and even a few on the left have made a big fuss over a black woman by the name of Velma Hart telling President Obama that she was "exhausted" from defending him during his town hall meeting hosted on CNBC. Mind you it was going to be a hostile audience as the CNBC crowd has a lot of crossover with the FoxNews crowd. But some made it seem like Mrs Hart was some how a major blow to President Obama because here was somebody who was presumably a big supporter of his in 2008 now seemingly saying she had lost faith in him.

Of course most of these stories only included her asking the question, they left out President Obama's answer.

Since I can't find an embed here is actually the full exchange.
Q Thank you very much and, quite frankly, good afternoon, President Obama. I am deeply honored to finally be in this forum, and so grateful for CNBC making the forum available so that you can speak to American citizens just like myself.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you.

Q I am a chief financial officer for a veterans service organization, AmVets here in Washington. I’m also a mother, I’m a wife, I’m an American veteran, and I’m one of your middle-class Americans. And quite frankly, I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for --


Q -- and deeply disappointed with where we are right now.

I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I’m one of those people, and I’m waiting, sir. I’m waiting. I don't feel it yet. And I thought, while it wouldn’t be in great measure, I would feel it in some small measure.

I have two children in private school. And the financial recession has taken an enormous toll on my family. My husband and I joked for years that we thought we were well beyond the hot dogs and beans era of our lives.


Q But quite frankly, it’s starting to knock on our door and ring true that that might be where we’re headed again. And quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer this honestly, is this my new reality?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I think that you describe exactly what is the bedrock of America -- a veteran who’s working for veterans, somebody who is a CFO and I am sure knows how to manage their money, have made good decisions.

Q Sometimes. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: I’m not saying once in a while you don't want to get a new pair of shoes. (Laughter.)

Q Today. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: So the life you describe -- one of responsibility, looking after your family, contributing back to your community -- that's what we want to reward.

Now, as I said before, times are tough for everybody right now, so I understand your frustration. But I would just -- when you say there are things that you’d like to see happen or you’re hoping to see happen that haven’t happened yet, let me just give you a couple of examples.

I right now have two children -- it sounds like you’ve got kids, as well.

Q Two girls.

THE PRESIDENT: Two girls. You’re going to be thinking about college soon.

Q Next year.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Now part of what we did over the last year and a half is to make sure that billions of dollars that were going to subsidize financial service industries under the federal student loan programs are now going to be going directly to students so that millions more students are going to be able to get loans and grants and scholarships to go to college. Now, that's going to have an impact on a whole bunch of kids out there, including maybe yours.

If you have a credit card, which I assume, you do --

Q No.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, see, now you’re really -- now you’ve shown how responsible you are. (Laughter.) But if you have a mortgage or a credit card or any kind of financial dealings out there, as a consequence of the changes we made, the credit card companies can’t increase your interest rate without notifying you, and they can’t increase your interest rate on your previous balances. In terms of getting a mortgage, they -- you can’t have a mortgage broker steer you to a mortgage that ultimately is going to cost you more money, because maybe they’re getting a financial incentive to do so. Those things are now against the law. So there are a whole host of protections in there.

You are a parent who has children -- if your child, heaven forbid, had a preexisting condition, before I took office, you were out of luck in terms of being able to get health insurance for that child. Now, insurance companies have to give you health insurance for that child, and by the way, that health insurance can’t drop you if you get sick.

So there are a whole host of things that we’ve put in place that do make your life better. But the bottom line is if your 401(K) is still down substantially from where it was a while back, if you haven’t seen a raise in a long time, if your home value went down --

Q Keep going. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: -- depending on where you live, all those things still make you feel like, gosh, I’m treading water.

Q Still struggling -- that's right.

THE PRESIDENT: And so my goal here is not to try to convince you that everything is where it needs to be. It’s not. That's why I ran for President. But what I am saying is, is that we’re moving in the right direction. And if we are able to keep our eye on our long-term goal -- which is making sure that every family out there, if they’re middle class, that they can pay their bills, have the security of health insurance, retire with dignity and respect, send their kids to college; if they’re not yet in the middle class, that there are ladders there to get into the middle class, if people work hard and get an education to apply themselves -- that's our goal. That's the America we believe in. And I think that we are on track to be able to do that.

In full context not only did President Obama answer her by listing some of the ways the legislation that he has signed into law may help her in one way or ano
ther going forward, he also acknowledged that there is a lot of work yet to be done and and showed empathy toward her own personal situation. To me that was a pretty decent if not good exchange. But if you look at the media and right wingers reaction to just her question, not the answer but just the question mind you, you would have thought the woman had said she was voting Republican because President Obama is a fraud.

Turns out she went on several cable shows the next day and it turns out she isn't so exhausted defending President Obama that she minded doing it yet again.

Kiran Chetry: Velma, when you said you were getting tired of defending the president, it's exhausting. Have you lost faith in the president? Or do you think it's simply the circumstances we're in that he doesn't necessarily have control of.

Velma Hart: It is absolutely the latter. But I don't know that he doesn't have control of it. I still have great faith in this president. I think that he is an amazing leader. I think he is inspirational.


Kiran Chetry: Well, Velma, you said you're exhausted defending him. What do people who have criticisms of the president that talk to you say? What are their biggest beefs?

Velma Hart: That he's all talk and no action, which I absolutely disagree with. I think the health care reform bill is action. I think the student loan legislation is action. I think there are – even, you know, like it or hate it, even the financial reform is action. So I don't get that argument. And I – and I get pretty passionate about it. I can't tell you I stand on top of tables and, you know, bang my head against the wall, but I believe in him. And I – you know, there's something about what he communicates that makes me believe that he's got a plan. I just – I’m tired of having debate – I think this is a moment of poker or something for me, maybe blackjack or 21. I want to have a card on the table that shuts the discussion and I don't have that yet.

Its funny because the wingnuts were all set to call Velma Hart a national hero after her question became a viral video, but now they want to throw her under the bus because it turns out that in spite of her own circumstances she still supports and appreciates President Obama.

Now I think Mrs. Hart was ill advised to ask the question the way she did but that woman is like a lot of people around this country. They are hurting, they are disappointed but they still support President Obama and don't want to see the alternative. But the truth is a helluva lot more was written about her question than has been or will be written about her clarification. See its only news when it appears the black folks no longer support President Obama. Its not news any more when it turns out that isn't true.

Kinda like how big the Gallup generic congressional poll was the one day out of a gazillion that Republicans were up 10 points but hasn't been news at all since then when Democrats have regained the lead.

Just another sign of our screwed up times I guess.

1 comment:

  1. seems like velma has "found" her voice. But I betcha she is gonna catch hell in church Sunday morning.


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