The big news this week on the New Tools front was, of course, President Obama's virtual town hall earlier today, in which he answered some of the most popular questions submitted and voted on at WhiteHouse.gov. The event, which took place in front of a live audience but was centered around questions submitted online, was streamed live to about 65,000 viewers. Here's what Simon and NDN fellow Morley Winograd had to say about the event in an internationally syndicated Associated Press article today by Philip Elliot, a smart and tech-savvy reporter on the White House beat:
"In the new world of online media, formal press conferences are just one element or program to get the message out — to those, usually older, who watch such things on TV. The online version he is doing is an alternative way to get out the same message, in this case on the budget, targeted toward a different audience, usually younger," said Morley Winograd, a former adviser to Vice President Al Gore who now runs the Institute for Communication Technology Management at the University of Southern California.
"In both cases the questioners are just props — or, in some cases, foils — for the star, Obama, to deliver his message. But in the latter case, they get to self-nominate instead of be selected by elites," Winograd said.
In a way, it's part campaign-style politics and part "American Idol," said political strategist Simon Rosenberg.
"Barack Obama is going to reinvent the presidency the way he reinvented electoral politics," said Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network and a veteran of presidential campaigns. "He is allowing everyday people to participate in a way that would've been impossible in the old media world."
Obama's campaign allowed supporters to organize themselves to go door-to-door and raise money. Because of that, many felt an ownership of the campaign and devoted countless hours to giving Obama the Democratic Party's nomination and then the presidency.
Obama's aides are taking that step forward, incorporating tools that let visitors to the White House Web site pick the questions Obama will answer, turning the president's Thursday event into a democratic press conference.
"Average people get to shape the outcome, like 'American Idol,'" Rosenberg said. "This is not a couch-potato age. Average people are expecting to be part of the process."
This virtual town hall was a great gesture on the President's part. Obama owed much of his campaign success to his ability to make ordinary Americans feel tangibly involved in the campaign, and he's making strides to make them feel the same way about government. I agree with Simon that participation is absolutely critical in this new political era, and it's great to see that the President understands that.
That being said, there are certain dangers to this approach. Back in January, in reference to Obama's "Citizen's Briefing Book" experiment, I wrote that it would be interesting to see how the
Obama administration handles [unexpected or uncomfortable questions or suggestions that arise through this process] - are they merely attempting to create the appearance and feel of accessibility and openness, or do they really believe deeply in the intrinsic value of this enterprise? How far will they be willing to push this experiment? How far should they? These are questions that undoubtedly will come increasingly to the fore as we enter headlong into a new era of American politics.
We saw similar issues arise today. The New York Times wrote that "at the outset, at least, the forum had a canned feel." In the town hall today, President Obama laughed off one of the most popular submitted questions, which asked if he would consider taxing and regulating marijuana to create a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. Here are just a few of the comments on the Politico post about the President's response:
"Because a 50 billion dollar/year untaxed industry is something to be laughed about..."
"Same old goverment ...they ask what we are concerned about and then ignore it. Im sure the Mexican Cartels are happy!!! We dont need the billion in tax money from mj, we have own printing press to make money!!"
"It is a shame that he did what he did. There were quite a few respectful, well articulated questions regarding marijuana and legalization. Obama tried to play them off as silly questions from a bunch of stoners. Meanwhile, people are dying in Mexico thanks to the 'War on Drugs.'"
"The way it was handled makes me believe that he is completely ignorant about this issue or else he could have provided a much more thoughtful response then just to laugh at it. I would have accepted some old talking points but to laugh it off as a joke should be insulting to those of us that take this issue seriously."
"The pot question was #1 under jobs, green economy & energy, budget, and financial stability. this is a big issue and i'm disappointed that it was dismissed so casually given the fact the white house is the one who initiated this forum in the first place. what a let down."
Of course, in the midst of a battle to pass his budget, it was unlikely that President Obama would spend political capital on this issue. But the most fundamental issue here is this: When the President asks people for their input, they will naturally want and expect that input to be taken seriously. The American people know the difference between genuine participation and the mere appearance of it; Obama's campaign made it easy for people to actually become directly involved, and people appreciated the authenticity of the experience. If, as Morley says in the article, it becomes too clear that "the questioners are just props — or, in some cases, foils — for the star, Obama, to deliver his message," the President's gesture of openness could potentially backfire on him.
Bipartisanship. Other than "stimulus" or "bailout," perhaps no word has been written or spoken more often by politicians and pundits alike in Washington since the inauguration of Barack Obama. Commentators have generally characterized President Obama's attempts to engage Republicans as almost completely unsuccessful, while Republicans have derided his efforts as charming but ineffective, especially in light of the more partisan approach of his party’s Congressional leadership. Liberals such as Thomas Frank dismissed bipartisanship as a "silly Beltway obsession," calling it "the most cynical stance possible."
For his part, the President told columnist E.J. Dionne that the almost complete rejection of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by congressional Republicans reflected a combination of genuine "core differences between Democrats and Republicans" and an opportunistic attempt to "enforce conformity" and "reinvigorate their base." Obama then outlined the limits of his good will in a phrase sure to be repeated as the debate continues: "You know, I'm an eternal optimist. That doesn't mean I'm a sap."
While some of this is just typical Washington politics, there is more to the argument over bipartisanship than mere gamesmanship. American politics has moved to a new era, one in which basic public attitudes toward government and the norms by which political activity is conducted and judged have been altered sharply and profoundly. Spurred as always by the emergence of a large and dynamic new generation, this makeover or realignment has changed almost everything about American politics, including the very meaning and practice of "bipartisanship."
The most striking evidence of just how much things have changed was the extraordinary exchange between the President, congressional leaders from both houses and parties, and leaders from the private sector, both business and labor, at the White House Summit on "Fiscal Sustainability." The entire event was deliberately choreographed by President Obama to be demonstrably bipartisan and televised for the public to see. The dialogue between the President and Members of Congress suggested some principles of an approach to governing that can best be described as "positive partisanship." It is the way in which bipartisanship will be exercised in the new civic era that began with the election and inauguration of Barack Obama. The President himself summarized how this new approach should work, responding to U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who asked him to take the lead in telling Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats to be inclusive in their approach to developing legislation: "I do agree that the majority has an obligation to try and be as inclusive as they can, but the minority has to be constructive in return. The minority has to come up with their own ideas and not just want to blow things up." Exactly.
In the 40-year long "idealist" era that just ended, bipartisanship reflected the circumstances of a nation dominated by the unflinchingly ideological and profoundly fractured Baby Boomer Generation. Within the electorate, and especially among Boomers, there were approximately an equal number of Republicans and Democrats and, at times, more independents than either. Voters were almost always sharply divided along the demographic lines of gender and ethnicity. In 14 of the 20 Congresses during the era, different parties controlled the presidency and at least one house of Congress, something favored by the American public in attitude surveys throughout the period. As a result, major alterations in public policy were rare and institutional gridlock was the rule rather than the exception.
Historically, in previous idealist eras, "bipartisanship" meant seeking the lowest common denominator to bridge the differences between ideological extremes. During most of the idealist era between the election of Andrew Jackson in 1828 and Abraham Lincoln in 1860, attempts to find a literal mathematical midpoint between the slave states and free states were the rule. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 divided the territory acquired in the Louisiana Purchase into free states north of latitude 36° 30' and slave states south of that line. Later, new states entered the Union in pairs, one slave and one free state at a time. A Whig politician, Henry Clay, gained the nickname "the Great Compromiser" for his efforts to achieve those middle ground solutions.
In the idealist era that has just ended, political leaders, especially Democrats, were often forced to return to the bipartisan model of that earlier era. Bill Clinton, certainly the more successful of the two Democrats elected to the presidency between 1968 and 2004, often pursued an approach of "triangulation" between the ideological liberals of his own party and the conservatives of the opposition Republicans. "Centrist" Democratic groups (the very term obviously implying middle ground positioning) sought a "Third Way" between the ideological and partisan ends of the political spectrum. Party liberals often excoriated Clinton and the "centrist" Democrats for their ideological impurity. But the efforts to seek midpoint bipartisan policies made sense in a politically divided idealist era, especially one in which the opposition party held the presidency most of the time and divided government was the norm.
But in 2008, America moved to a new political era and everything changed, including the meaning of bipartisanship, as the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression pushed the country into another civic era. In this environment, the American public, which had preferred divided government during the previous idealist era, now endorses unified government. A CNN survey conducted immediately after the 2008 general election indicated that a clear majority (59%) favored the idea of the Democrats controlling both elective branches of the federal government. Only 38 percent said that one-party rule was a bad idea. The public used a clearly civic era rationale to explain its changed attitude, telling Wall Street Journal pollsters that when the same party controls both the presidency and Congress, "it will end gridlock in Washington and things will get done." A recent CBS/New York Times survey confirmed the desire for decisive action across the institutional lines of a newly unified government. A clear majority (56%) wants President Obama to pursue the policies he promised in the campaign rather than working in a bipartisan way with Republicans (39%). By contrast, an even larger majority (79%) wants congressional Republicans to work in a bipartisan way with the President rather than sticking to Republican policies.
Faced with the need to deal with the deep national crisis that triggered the birth of the civic era, the majority of Americans no longer have the time or tolerance for the partisan and ideological rancor that fractured the political process and produced gridlock in the previous idealist era. If nothing else, the public expects calm, courteous, and polite discussion that focuses more on possible solutions and less on defining differences and distinctions. That tone was exemplified by the President as he conducted the Q&A with the Summit participants -- listening carefully to what they had to say, agreeing or disagreeing with some comments but always in a civil, and in some cases self-deprecating, way that made it impossible for the participants to engage in their usual hot-button rhetoric.
Beyond demanding a new tone in political discourse, the public is also expressing its desire for decisive action with the majority party, currently the Democrats, having primary responsibility for governing. At the Summit, the President underlined some of the philosophical differences between the parties when discussing the question of individual tax rates or levels of overall revenue. But he made clear by his control of the session what he had told some Republicans earlier: "We won." He acknowledged both that the electorate had asked Democrats to take the lead in developing and implementing policies to deal with the major issues facing the nation and that he wanted the Republicans to play a role in finding the answers so long as they participated in a "constructive" fashion.
This offer to engage puts the GOP in a quandary. It can choose to retain its ideological purity and hope to avoid blame if Democratic decisions turn out to be ineffective or harmful, but in doing so it is denying itself any role policymaking during Obama’s presidency. Furthermore, such posturing is already creating an image in the public’s mind of Republicans being too political and obstructionist.
Alternatively, the GOP can resurrect the "Ev and Charlie Show" from the days of Lyndon Johnson when those two Republican congressional leaders participated in the policymaking process as a junior partner. If the Republicans choose this approach, they may leave themselves open to charges, similar to those leveled by Newt Gingrich at Republican congressional leaders when he first arrived in Congress, that they are a pale "me too" reflection of the Democrats, without any guiding principles of their own. But the approach does produce results. In the 1960s, Everett Dirksen and Charles Halleck collaborated with LBJ to provide the crucial votes on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The decisive support of Republican Senators Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter for the recently enacted economic recovery act may be an unofficial and limited reflection of this approach early in the new civic era.
Overall, however, the GOP seems inclined to avoid collaborating with Democrats in order to stay true to its idealist era ideology. While that may well promote party unity and discipline, from the perspective of enhancing the Republican brand, it seems to be a major error.
In a recent Daily Kos survey, clear majorities had favorable opinions of the President (67%) and the Democratic Party (53%). Favorable attitudes toward congressional Democrats (44%), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (39%), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (34%) were not nearly as high. But, the favorable ratings received by the Democrats were substantially above those given to the Republican Party (27%), congressional Republicans (17%), John Boehner (13%), and Mitch McConnell (19%). Moreover, since the first of the year, favorable ratings of the Democratic leaders and the Democratic Party have remained stable or even increased, while those of the Republicans have declined.
In 2008, the American people chose the Democratic Party to take the lead in confronting and resolving the grave problems facing the nation. They are expecting a decisive, civic-oriented response from President Obama. The Republican Party is left with the options of either joining the struggle or being left behind. Ultimately, both parties behavior will be shaped and judged by a new definition of what it means to exercise positive partisanship in a new era.
It was an especially diverse week for NDN in the media. First off, Simon had a great quote in Rolling Stone's "100 People Who Are Changing America." Guess who was number 1 on the list? Here's what Rolling Stone had to say about America's Change Agent-in-Chief:
WHAT HE'S CHANGING: The every-man-for-himself ethos of the Reagan Revolution, in favor of a greater idea of America: We're all in this together. The change is reflected in the successes of his first six weeks — the largest-ever middle-class tax cut, passed with the stimulus; his extension of health care to 4 million children; and the act he signed to bring fair pay to working women. "He has already brought about an amazing amount of constructive change," Al Gore tells Rolling Stone. "And he has succeeded in greatly expanding the limits of what is now considered possible." The crises Obama faces in domestic and foreign policy are immense, but his opportunity to implement sweeping change is similarly historic. "He has a capacity to do so much in the next eight years that he'll leave behind a very different understanding of what government can be — and of America itself," says Simon Rosenberg, president of the Democratic think tank NDN.
Pro-immigrant Democratic strategists were also calling the confab a success. "It's an exciting day," said Simon Rosenberg of NDN. And given the magnitude of Obama's other legislative challenges, he predicted: "The White House is going to realize that passing comprehensive immigration reform is one of the easier things he can do this year."
And from the Mexican paper Excelsior:
Salas destacó que aunque Obama no especificó el mes en el que podría promoverse la reforma, los legisladores confían en que sea en el otoño venidero, por su parte, Simon Rosenberg, presidente del Instituto de Nueva Política, aseguró que le conviene tanto a demócratas como a republicanos promover una reforma migratoria este año.
“Para los demócratas, porque ellos se comprometieron con los votantes latinos a lograrlo y, para los republicanos, porque si no hacen las paces con la enorme y creciente comunidad latina, estarán arriesgándose a quedar fuera del escenario político en una generación y la única forma de reconciliarse con la comunidad latina será salir y apoyar esta reforma migratoria, y reconciliarse con esta enorme fuerza de votantes” explicó.
Our recent event with Joe Rospars and Simon was also picked up in the Polish paper Gazeta (the online version also embeds our video of the event).
Rob got major play in an excellent story by Thomas Edsall in the Huffington Post today:
Democrat Robert Shapiro, former Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs during the Clinton administration, and chairman of the economic advisory firm Sonecon argues that, by generally deferring to Wall Street leaders, the administration has become the target of populist resentment, drawing attention to the fact that many in the administration came from the financial industry, or the New York Fed -- which is closely linked to the industry, including Larry Summers and Tim Geithner. Now, Shapiro added, Summers and Geithner are in position of virtually defending Wall Street - only backing off on the AIG bonus issue, for example, when the public rose up in fury.
Shapiro argues strongly in favor of temporary nationalization of those banks which are on the verge of collapse. A full scale, short-term takeover of insolvent institutions "is the only reasonable course at this point," he said, if that means "pulling out the bad assets and the leveraged borrowed to hold them (without having to put a particular value on them), and selling what's left to a new group, under a new name or the old one. It could actually be done very quickly - so the institution is closed for a short time while the depositors' accounts are quickly transferred to the new entity."
Shapiro contends that "these institutions are so stricken that there's no other practical solution."
Finally, NDN Fellows Morley Winograd and Mike Hais were featured in the San Jose Mercury News in an article about Obama's online mobilization of support for his policy initiatives. From the piece:
Some analysts and political experts believe Obama will be able to springboard from his campaign success, using online tools to keep backers connected and motivated, and that will put new pressure on Congress to enact the president's agenda on health care and energy. Votes on the budget are expected in the next two months.
"The legislative branch is about to experience crowd-sourcing," said Morley Winograd, the co-author with Michael Hais of "Millennial Makeover." He was using a term for leveraging Web technologies to enable mass collaboration.
"The ability to communicate and organize is a powerful weapon, and this will be part of a transformational change in politics," he predicted Thursday. Winograd and Hais believe "millennials" (voters under 30) are using online tools to remake politics.
President Clinton faced a similar challenge, how to keep his backers involved after the 1992 election, "and basically did nothing — that was a costly mistake," Winograd said.
In his weekly address today, President Obama makes his case on the proposed budget. He explains that he does not see this budget as
...numbers on a page or a laundry list of programs. It’s an economic blueprint for our future – a vision of America where growth is not based on real estate bubbles or overleveraged banks, but on a firm foundation of investments in energy, education, and health care that will lead to a real and lasting prosperity.
These investments are not a wish list of priorities that I picked out of thin air – they are a central part of a comprehensive strategy to grow this economy by attacking the very problems that have dragged it down for too long: the high cost of health care and our dependence on foreign oil; our education deficit and our fiscal deficit.
This video is an important step for the President, who many feel has struggled so far to make a compelling case for his budget. It is also just one of several ways the President is using new media to push his agenda; here's an excerpt from an email I got last week from Organizing for America:
The next few weeks will be some of the most important our movement for change has encountered yet.
Mitch wrote to you earlier this week about Organizing for America's Pledge Project -- an effort to identify and mobilize support across the country for the economic vision President Obama has outlined in his budget.
I'm not sure that the President's language is 100% there yet on the budget (and clean coal still?), but he makes a clear, cogent argument for it in this video. It's also clear that he understands the challenge ahead of him in getting this passed, and it'll be interesting to see how he ramps up the fight. Watch the video of this week's address below:
Quotes from random famous people who believe in volunteering and community service:
We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give -- Winston Churchill
The miracle is this - the more we share, the more we have -- Dr. Spock (Star Trek doctor, not baby doctor, aka Leonard Nimoy)
No matter how big and powerful government gets, and the many services it provides, it can never take the place of volunteers -- Ronald Reagan
Everyone can be great because anyone can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't even have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve... You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love... -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This week was a great one for national service, one of the cornerstones of the young Administration of President Barack Obama and a top priority for the First Lady. The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday -- by a rare, massively bipartisan vote -- passed the GIVE Act (Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education) sponsored by U.S. Rep. George Miller. There were a few dissenters who opposed the legislation, arguing that the bill would hurt groups like the Boy Scouts because the volunteers under the legislation would be paid. The horror: boosting the economy, helping kids pay for college and helping others.
Don't worry: a Senate Committee this week reviewed a similar bill in that chamber sponsored by U.S. Sens. Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch. The bill has a much simpler name -- the Serve America Act -- and is expected to pass easily early next week.
According to the New York Times:
The House voted Wednesday to approve the largest expansion of government-sponsored service programs since President John F. Kennedy first called for the creation of a national community service corps in 1963.
The legislation, which passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 321 to 105, would more than triple the number of service positions by expanding Americorps and creating volunteer programs focused on education, health care, clean energy and veterans. The total number of positions would grow to 250,000 from 75,000 now in AmeriCorps.
Earlier this month, I wrote about the plan to introduce the bill and the story of how Michelle Obama made it all happen. On Tuesday of this week, the FLOTUS was at a rally on the National Mall to celebrate the 30th anniversary of YouthBuild, a public serviice organization.
National service is near and dear to us here at NDN. Morley Winograd and Mike Hais, NDN's two newest Fellows and authors of the critically acclaimed Milllennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube & the Future of American Politics, have done extensive research on the values and outlooks of Millennials, the largest U.S. generation ever.
Unlike the preceding idealist generations, the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, Millennials are a civic generation. As Morley and Mike wrote in December 2008 in "Reinforcing Obama's Millennial Army:"
According to Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, almost 60 percent of Millennials are “personally interested in engaging in some form of public service to help the country.” The ethos of service among Millennials is strongly supported regardless of gender or party affiliation. While many of those surveyed see public service as working for government, or even running for office, there is no reason to channel the generation’s enthusiasm solely into these more politically oriented activities. Instead, the incoming Obama Administration should create an entity to help Millennials find ways to rebuild all of America’s civic institutions.
It's no coincidence that Millennials voted for Obama by a more than 2:1 margin. Now it's payback time and Obama's making good.
Morley and Mike are actually in DC today to celebrate the launch of the new, updated paperback version of their critically acclaimed book. During the forum we held here at NDN, they were asked about Millinnials and national service.
As Morley and Mike have said and written before:
Millennials are of an archetype labeled "civic" by the seminal generational theorists William Strauss and Neil Howe. Like all other civic generations throughout American history, Millennials are defined by their strong desire to advance the welfare of the entire group and, by extension, all of society. The willingness of Millennials to help make things better was reflected in their enthusiastic reaction to Obama’s call during the campaign for a program aimed at young people that would help them pay for college in exchange for two years of public service, either in the military or one of the federal civilian service organizations. While the financial concerns of a generation heavily burdened by educational debt may have partially accounted for the loud applause this idea always generated, there is far more to it than self-interest.
Two powerful forces of generational and technological change combined in 2008 to completely transform American politics. As predicted by co-authors Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais in the first edition of Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube & the Future of American Politics, those who best understood this wave of change rode it to victory, while those who stubbornly clung to the politics of the past were drowned by a rising tide of voters' demand for change.
Tomorrow, Thursday, March 19, NDN is excited to invite you to celebrate the release of the brand new, updated paperback edition and join Morley and Mike, NDN's newest Fellows, as they review the events of the 2008 election campaign, drawing out the lessons that everyone can use to guide them through this new era. NDN President Simon Rosenberg will join the authors in the discussion.
This special forum will start at 12 p.m. Lunch will be served beginning at 11:30 a.m. Seating is limited, so please arrive early to ensure a spot.
To RSVP, please click here. For more information, including speaker bios and event location, please click here. For those not able to attend the event here in our offices, be sure to watch it live on our new high-end Web casting system at www.ndnblog.org/livecast at 12:15 p.m. ET.
In the meantime, if you haven't read the new Millennial Makeover yet, you can buy it here. New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winner critic Michiko Kakutani chose the original book as one of her 10 favorites in 2008, and the new afterword makes the book even more enlightening.
When the 2008 election was over, the makeover of America’s politics had been fully set in motion. A new civic era, built on Millennial Generation values and beliefs and energized by the power of peer-to-peer communications, had begun. The paperback edition of Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube & the Future of American Politics enables readers to understand the nature of America’s transformation that is now underway and serve as a constant guide through the rapid waters of change that the United States will undergo in this new Millennial Era.
So join us tomorrow to learn more about this makeover of U.S. politics by the Millennial Generation -- the largest and most progressive American Generation yet.
Today the Cager-in-Chief offered his picks for the NCAA Tournament which begins tomorrow at arenas around the country. President Barack Obama was as calculating with his selections for the Final Four as he was with his cabinet picks suggesting at one point that he liked the University of Maryland but just not to get to the Sweet Sixteen. Let's just hope the Memphis Tigers don't have any tax issues. One of his "nominees" for the Final Four is sure to attract some attention here at NDN as he selected DeJuan Blair and the Pittsburgh Panthers to advance to Detroit after beating second seed Duke. To see the president make his selections check out the video from Andy Katz of ESPN.
President Obama broke his streak of weekly addresses concerned with the economy, and instead took on another issue that touches all of us: Food and drug safety. He is creating a "food safety working group" to help move past Bush-era shortcomings that left us with unacceptable "hazards to public health." We also learn that Sasha Obama and I have similar eating habits.
Whether you're in DC or across the globe, please join NDN and the New Politics Institute (NPI) today, Tuesday, March 10, for a special event here at our offices near the White House for a conversation with Joe Rospars, the new media director of the Obama presidential campaign and founder of Blue State Digital, one of the nation's leading new media consulting firms.
We're expecting a full house today, and we've also heard from people just a few blocks from us and one friend in Uruguay who plan to watch the livestream of Joe and Simon talking about how the Obama campaign used new media and the Internet to change politics here, and around the world, forever.
The conversation with Joe will take place at the NDN offices at 729 15th St., NW, between H Street and New York Avenue. Lunch will be served. Seating is limited and will be first come first serve -- please click here to RSVP if you haven't already done so.
For those not able to attend the event here in our offices, be sure to watch it live on our new high-end Web casting system. Just go to ndnblog.org/livecast -- the stream will begin at 12:15 p.m. ET.
Joe's full bio follows:
A Blue State Digital founding partner, Joe served as the New Media Director for Barack Obama's presidential campaign, where he oversaw all online aspects of the unprecedented fundraising, communications and grassroots mobilization effort.
Joe led a wide-ranging program that integrated design and branding, web and video content, mass email, text messaging, and online advertising, organizing and fundraising.
Prior to the Obama campaign, Joe led BSD's work with Gov. Howard Dean at the Democratic National Committee; during Dean's campaign for party chairman; and at Democracy for America. Joe was a writer and strategist in New Media for Dean's 2004 Presidential campaign.
He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the George Washington University.
See you soon and please come early to ensure a seat!
The nation's capital was temporarily distracted from the continuing avalanche of horrible economic news when Brangelina swooped into town last week. In a town known for people with sizable egos of their own, there was a lot of swooning going on. Brad Pitt pretty much brought the U.S. Capitol to a dead halt as he lobbied on behalf of green homes for Katrina victims. Pitt also popped over to the White House for a private meeting with President Barack Obama.
His partner, Angelina Jolie, came with him to film scenes for her new movie, "Salt." Part of the filming took place outside the office of NDN's own Dr. Rob Shapiro, who unfortunately, was traveling.
By week's end, though, reality was back in DC and across the nation. New unemployment figures showed more than 650,000 jobs were lost in February, bringing the nation's unemployment to the highest rate in a quarter century.
In his weekly radio radio and Web video address released today, Obama continued his focus on economic recovery and keeping the nation's spirits up. Associated Press summed up today's address:
Obama recapped the work of the latest hectic week in his young presidency. His goal was to reassure the country that he and his team are taking specific steps to create jobs in the short term and begin to address huge issues such as health care.
His rundown of the past week: the launch of a more detailed plan to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure; a new credit plan to spur lending for people and businesses; an overhaul of the way the government hands out private contracts to reduce waste; and a summit on how to overhaul health care.
Obama also made clear that he would not be discouraged by the challenges ahead:
President Barack Obama on Saturday challenged his country to see its hard times as a chance to "discover great opportunity in the midst of great crisis."
"That is what we can do and must do today. And I am absolutely confident that is what we will do," Obama said in his weekly radio and video address, taped a day earlier at the White House.
U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt offered up the GOP response. It was all talk, no ideas. The Republican Party continues to implode (check out this great read by New York Times op-ed columnist Charles Blow).