President Obama, at a star-studded Democratic fundraising event Wednesday evening, praised his audience for putting him in the White House, but he also blamed them for handing the gavel to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
“I know that sometimes people got so excited back in 2008, they thought, All right, we elect Barack and that's it,' ” the president told an audience gathered in Los Angeles for a private Democratic National Committee event at the home of Hollywood producer Shonda Rhimes, creator of "Scandal" and its fantasy Washington political scene. “Now, one of the problems with Democrats is we're real good on presidential elections. We get real excited.
“But during midterm elections, people don't even know there's an election -- don't know who their congressman is, don't know who their senators are. And as a consequence, the other side tends to vote at higher rates,” he added.
The president then accused Democrats of being oblivious to the existence of midterm elections, citing voter apathy as the reason for Boehner’s current role as Speaker.
“And so the midterms come around, and lo and behold we're surprised when John Boehner is the Speaker of the House. Say, well, how did that happen?” the president said. “What happened to [Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.]? What happened was you all didn't work. That's what happened.”
“And then all kinds of … stuff happened. That’s what it was — stuff,” he added to laughter.
Later in his address, as he stood surrounded by approximately 450 eager attendees, celebrities and top ranking Democratic leaders, including DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the president recalled his campaign glory days.
“[W]e’ve got to step it up in the midterms — not when it’s easy, not when it’s sexy, not when there’s ‘Hope’ posters … and it’s all cute,” he said. “We’ve got to be in the trenches when it’s hard. And it’s hard right now, but now is exactly when everybody has got to step up.
“You got to step up. And if you do step up, then we’re going to make progress,” he said. “We’re not going to solve every problem, but we’ll make progress.”
But the president was also careful to throw the Democratic Party a few favors, declaring that it’s not to blame for the political gridlock that currently grips the nation’s capital.
“[A]ll we hear about is gridlock, and all we hear about is posturing, and all we hear about are phony scandals,” he said. “And the truth is, is that what we see on the nightly news or on cable news is just this constant clamor of hot air, and folks posturing and opinionating but not actually doing any work that focuses on the people who sent them there.”
“[W]e don’t have a government that’s working for the American people is because the Republican Party has been taken over by people who just don’t believe in government; people who think that the existing arrangements where just a few folks who are doing well, and companies that pollute should be able to pollute, and companies that want to cheat you on your credit card should be able to do that, and that anything goes — that’s their philosophy,” he added.
But wait! There’s more! The president went on to explain that most voters are simply dimwitted and just not interested in figuring out major issues.
“And so [Republican] obstruct, and they obfuscate, and they bamboozle, and they sometimes don’t tell exactly what’s true,” he said. “And people grow cynical, and people grow discouraged. And over time they start thinking, you know what, all politicians are the same.”
“And most folks don't have the time to sort out all the intricacies of Obamacare or Benghazi, or this or that. They don't have time for that. All they know is it's not working for them. And so people then pull out and they drop out, and they don't work. And that further entrenches those who are protecting an unjust status quo,” he added.
These remarks drew applause from the crowd, which included "Scandal" star Kerry Washington and singer Janelle Monae.
The president concluded his remarks with a threat to get more involved in the nation’s politics: “I’ve got two years left in this presidency. I want to get a whole bunch of stuff done.”
The cost of attending the event ranged from $1,000 to $32,000 per person, a DNC official told Variety.