Thursday, March 12, 2009

Obama: Go To Vegas, For God's &%&#@ Sake

A month or so after the fact, someone in the White House press corps felt the need to ask Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs about the president's Feb. 9 remarks in Indiana admonishing bailout-taking companies not to take leisure trips like junkets and "corporate appreciation" activities to Vegas and elsewhere.

Those remarks -- utterly misconstrued to mean Obama doesn't think anyone should go to Vegas for any reason ever again for the rest of human history and tough shit to starving bellhops, waiters and cabbies -- sent Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman into orbit and birthed international attention to whether serious business could be done here. He demanded an apology and then said he was satisfied that Sen. Harry Reid wasted Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel's time discussing it. Emmanuel assured Reid that Obama meant what he clearly said, that using tax money for non-work fun is inadvisable.

How this came up today, I have no clue. I could probably find out, but I also don't care. Here's the exchange that took place today at the White House between a journalist and Gibbs:

Question: An op-ed in the Washington Post -- a part of it is about business travel and seems to be referring to what the president said, don't go to Las Vegas or The Super Bowl.

Gibbs: Let's be clear about what the president said. I don't think the president said don't go to Las Vegas. Or don't go to Hawaii or don't go to the Super Bowl, I forget where the super bowl was. Don't go to Tampa. If you have -- it's getting warm. If you have the desire and the where with all to travel to those places, to quote a famous southerner, Delta is ready when you are. What the president expressed some concern about was companies that are getting large amounts of public funding, taxpayer funding through a financial stabilization plan, that the president does have great concern with public money being used for that. But, the president believes in its important to have a strong tourism industry and it's important that as the president said earlier, that or late last week, we shouldn't pull back from. He would encourage people to travel. His concern, the concern he specifically expressed had to do with the use of taxpayer or use of money by institutions that received a lot of assistance from the taxpayers. Obviously, that's not something he would incorporate.

Question: He's concerned comments may have been misconstrued. Any regrets about what he said?

Gibbs: I think the president, despite what some people heard, was very clear about the delineations between families and businesses traveling versus to need to ensure that appropriate protections are in place for taxpayer assistance used to help financial institutions stabilize themselves. They were -- that money was -- is being spent and we assume it will be spent will great care.

Case closed, right? Can the Gods of Vegas finally go invent something else to feel slighted about now?


Anonymous said...

Gobama gobama

R-J Guy said...

So the White House is saying that we should ONLY take Delta? Is that it? Can't wait for the folks at United to demand an apology...

Dante (you always make me chuckle, thank you!) said...

Wait. Delta means 'change'. So, 'Change is ready when you are.'

It's slick, subliminal, semantics like that which makes me wonder if Copperfield is going to be nominated to the Cabinet next.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, Wynn was clear about the cancellation they had from a non-Tarp recipient. Mandalay Bay lost Goldman to San Francisco. So it's ok for Goldman to have a conference in the more expensive Bay area than Vegas? A bank I do business with said Vegas is off limits and it's costing them more money in airfares and hotel rooms, etc. And, oh yeah, the places they have to go are boring. Yes, the politics have affected Vegas and the people who work there whether or not you agree with the politician who said fomented them. The problem with populism is that rarely stops at just one vilified group, it spreads and in this case it spread to Vegas.


Qwerty in Queensland said...

SG: Oh get over it. the economy sucks. that's why nobody's having conventions. vegas people are such whiners. and in this case, i guarantee if the mayor hadn't made this into a really big deal, those remarks would never have been replayed and replayed ad nauseum. And yes -- sorry Steve -- the media created this, too. Remember, it was journalists who went to Goodman and said, 'What do you think about Obama saying businesses shouldn't go to Vegas' knowing full well that's not what the president was saying.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you still don't get it. It's not WHAT he said, it's how it was perceived. Check out the video from CNBC from just last week that includes the Obama clip, and see what it was spun into in spite of it. CNBC claims "Obama said CEO's shouldn't be caught dead in Vegas."

The national media HAS been blasting it that way. They HAVE been looking to catch some corp heading to Vegas, just as they did with Home Depot and causing them to tell their managers to keep a low profile for their meeting here. Others have also cancelled and rescheduled to other cities.

You don't think that has an impact? To think that you'd have to be pretty naive.

GregoryZephyr said...

I'm going to have to disagree with you steve. Up until the late 90's my company never held any sort of company event in Vegas. That changed as it became recognized that Vegas made sense for a national organization both financially and practically. The stigma attached to Vegas faded. Now, my company is specifically avoiding Vegas this year. And since most events are planned 6+ months out, that means most of 2010 will be off limits too. It'll probably take 3 years or more for us to come back. So, guess what? Vegas' loss is now Denver, San Francisco, Phoenix, Atlanta's, etc. gain. Reputation and perception is important and unfortunately, Vegas' is a bit tarnished from the business community's standpoint now.