Baratunde Thurston (Jack and Jill Politics) hosts a conversation with Valerie Jarrett (senior advisor to President Obama), with questions provided by the audience.
Conversation to follow... -watch on CSPAN-, facebook.com/netrootsnation
#nn09 for comments
Q what do you do?
A Office of public engagement, and I host an opportunity to engage with the WH, also major efforts to engage the local and state parters, also chairs council on women and girls. Alos, business council input, also senior advisor.
Q Have you decontaminated Karl Rove's office and swept it for bugs?
A office also used by sec. Clinton, but calming music helped.
Q president Obama is unflappably calm - has he ever lost it?
A I've never heard him raise his voice.
q Can you play both friend and advisor? Is it hard?
A. No, we treat him with respect, but we can do both
Q I want to see a cage match with you and Rahm... will it happen?
a we've always had a good relationship, never had a team for whom I've had so much respect. No drama Obama? Rahm is part of that team. No cage match.
Q. what about your role when it comes to race?
A. Diversity is the key, good team of people and that's the best way to approach things.
Q. Can you talk about the transition from campaigning to governance?
A. The difference is that voices need to be heard, but governance requires more structure. Also, others outside need to feel welcome, including those form other campaigns. But what we need, really, is to change the way we govern. "well, we tried that in 1932, and it didn't work." But we do need change.
Q Has this fundamentally changed you?
A. we are humbled by the opportunity to know the President and work in the WH. It's scary, but we have to make the best of this opportunity. we worked so hard in the campaign we were exhausted, but you can't do that and do your best.
Q. Tell us about when Tom Daschle withdrew.
A. Very sad, but the President bounced back with a terrific team.
Q. Tea parties? How seriously does the President take it?
A. The reason he ran is to get away from that tone. They are trying to scare people, elderly people, and I am ticked. It's what we are fighting against, but they underestimate the American people. and media is not focusing on the productive debates we are having, it's not just raucus. we need retail help from you all.
Q. Is there a "black table" [segregated] at lunch?
A. Laughter... we don't eat lunch... no time. More laughter.
Q. How many of the 300K resumes the WH got received a serious review?
A. Many, many, many. "we are constantly looking for new people".
Q. On lobbyist influence? 7 months in, how do you feel about it re personnel?
A. Lobbyists were used to calling the WH, but what frustrates lobbyists is that I want to talk to the principal.
Q. Is the President going to pull the Blue Dogs in and talk to them about what stimulus money they get and where their vote will be on health care?
A. I am convinced he is doing this right. He's going to count on you to put the pressure on. Trust me, it will work.
Q. GOP leadership is not interested in partisanship... read their tweets. Can't you do this with Democrats alone?
A. The whole reason why we are here is that Americans were tired with that kind of politics. We are trying to reach them. That's why the President was in Montana yesterday, not in a Democratic area.
Q do you believe the birthers are crazy, racist, or crazy and racist?
A. This is nuts, but everybody gets to have a voice. it's hard to be patient, but this week we are talking about health care. Also, the misinformation people will become marginalized as we educate people.
Q. Will the President jettison public option to get a bipartisan bill and will he veto a non-public option bill?
A. The President wants a public option (verified by asking him.) But he wants a pulic option to assure competition. we can't fast forward to the end of the process, but he is making the case why he thinks that.
Q. Under 50 supports, over 50 opposes (pollster Keating Holland) health reform... how to handle that?
A. That's why the AARP town meeting, and no surprise given the misinformation. You folks can help with getting better info out. we need medical billing we can understaqnd, portable care when we are traveling, etc. The real challenge is to educate the people about what the opportunities are.
Q. How will the Obama administration advocate for LGBT issues?
A. He thinks DADT is wrong and DOMA discriminates. He wants to repeal the laws.
Q. Under "not enough change", why is he continuing so many Bush policies like signing statements?
A. Fair question. He did outlaw torture, and release memos. Releasing pictures is delicate... balancing keeping us safe with transparency.
Q why continue with Blackwater?
A. we're working on getting rid of no-bid contracts, but the point is we are only 6 months in and some things take time and we have to follow a process. The president is aware we have peoplerisking their lives for us and has to balance nat security with transparency, and I am asking you to trust him.
[most raucus response so far]
Q. immigration reform?
A. real solution is long term immigration reform. Full plate, but multi-tasking. Maybe next year, but process is underway.
Q Progressives feel Obama needs to be pushed from the left, like FDR. How will he respond?
A. what he is looking for is ideas, and he responds to constructive ideas well. So we are open to suggestion, and if that is what you mean by pressure, bring it on.
Q what about the promised women's forum?
A. I am not sure of what the q refers to.
Q. genocide in Darfur? what steps will be done to end genocide?
A. President has been clear... fact finding will bring back concrete steps by everyone not just the US
Q. what about paycheck fairness?
A. yes, it is an important issue we are following.
Q. will he establish a 2 billion dollar fund for education in africa and overseas?
A. Sec. Clinton's trip highlights that we are committed to education overseas and here. We need education here to be competitive.
Q. what's the cost benefit analysis of regulating the 'too big to fail", health sector, etc?
A. It's vital. "The last economy was a bubble." The Us haqd to take unprecedented action because the small businessess were so dependent on the banks. it was out of control because there were no checks and balances and it was a "false economy". The President wants a sustainable economy through health reform, education, green jobs, but we need a regulatory framework. For example we need a consumer financial proection agency.
Q. How can we have less discrimination in health care?
A. we need a system where people who need insurance have access to it.
Q. Green jobs?
A. You know Van Jones? [Yes, we do] we were happy to recruit him into the WH. We want to do this on a national scale.
Q. Does the President read blogs, and Mac or PC?
A. He reads blogs (won't say which one), he reads letters, has a computer and won't tell yuo what kind.
Q. NY Times today says grassroots campaign not actived?
A. it's early, it's August. we are confident we are going to get health reform done.
Q. will the President watch my [Baratunde's] new show on scince channel?
A. we will ask him.
q. what do you want from this audience?
A. Thank you all for being here, we share your frustration and urgency, we depend on you and your outreach and network to energize people on the ground. he asked me to convey to you how important you are. stay engaged, push us, but don't stop coming to the table.