Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Frank Church Banquet 2009

The weekend of March 6-8 found me once again in Boise for my usual reason: the Idaho Democratic Party Frank Church Banquet and state committee meeting. This visit proved to be an exceptional one for several reasons. First, I joined several other Idaho political bloggers on both Friday and Saturday nights for an exchange of stories, political discussions, great beer, and lots of fun. Not only did I experience Boise nightlife, but Nampa's as well. And I received an educational lesson on beer. Bloggers know what's important....

Secondly, events like the Frank Church Banquet allow me to become re-acquainted with fellow Democrats. It feels really good to be surrounded by other people who share a similar political ideology. Those large groups do not often come together in the netherlands of Idaho and one can begin to feel very alone in the redder parts of this great state.

Finally, I really wanted to hear what the banquet, keynote speaker, Jim Messina, had to say about the Obama White House. Jim is an Idahoan through and through, raised in Boise, a graduate of Boise High School, with family still in the state. And now he is Obama's Deputy Chief of Staff. And he did have something to say about working with Obama and being in the White House. He basically said that he has learned five very important lessons so far. His description of these lessons painted a portrait of a president who is respected, intelligent, and insightful as well as having a good sense of humor, great love for his family, and a belief in not just our country but in its citizens.

While describing these five important lessons, Jim also made us all aware that in many ways he is like his president, including his love of family, his willingness to work hard for our nation, and his own disarming sense of humor. The first lesson he learned is that no one is more important than anyone else. It takes teamwork to accomplish great and small tasks and the people who helped organize the Obama campaign and who now work in the White House are all team players.

Jim also learned that such jobs are never glamorous. His office is small, he receives more emails than he can read, and at all hours of the day (and even night) people want his help and attention. His main job is fixing problems, whatever they may be, which entails both seemingly insurmountable problems to petty and insignificant ones.

Next Jim pointed out that Democrats are passionate. He gave several examples of this, including his own faux pas at the Democratic National Convention which led to his being taken aside by Obama who told him, "Let me make the headlines." But Democrats' passions show up in many forms, and Jim also described the example of approaching an arena at which Obama was to speak and at three miles away people already were lined up along the roadway, just for the chance to wave to Obama.

Jim also made us aware that contrary to some opinions, Democrats are not disorganized. He told several anecdotes about Democratic organization, but the one that stayed with me is that on the Sunday before the election, the Obama team knocked on over one million doors. Now that is true grassroots organization!

Finally, he said that Democrats not only make history, but that their core beliefs are the same as the American people's beliefs. In making history, he described how ironic, but also historic it is that slaves helped finish building the White House that is now occupied by the first African-American president and his family. He also mentioned how Obama has already begun to repair the damage of the Bush administration with the passage of SCHIP and the Lily Ledbetter Act, and with a re-newed focus on alternative energy. He made the point that this administration believes in making health care available to all Americans, in becoming energy independent, in insuring that all children receive a world class education, and in providing tax relief to those who need it most, the poor and the middle class, and not the richest, and not the corporations.

All in all, Jim provided a personable and insightful view into all the next four years could be. Idaho Democrats are proud of Jim and very happy with their new president. This weekend demonstrated to me that Democrats are fair, organized, passionate, and that they believe in providing for the American people. And although their job as Democrats may not be glamorous, Democrats are terrific, rather beautiful people.

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