Obama to Netroots: “Change has not come fast enough”

LAS VEGAS — President Obama on Saturday delivered a surprise video message to Netroots Nation, acknowledging to liberal activists that “change has not come fast enough.”

The fact that Obama felt it necessary to address the crowd — even in a recorded video message — suggests the White House is concerned that self-described progressives who worked to get him elected were growing impatient with his inability to follow through on some of his promises, and disappointment that where he has acted, he’s come up short of their preferred outcome.

And it was telling that the reception he received from the audience was warm but not overwhelmingly enthusiastic, which we came to expect during the campaign.

“I wish I could be with all of you in Vegas, but then I realized that this weekend what happens in Vegas will be webcast, diaried and tweeted by 2,000 of you,” Obama joked.

He conceded that, “Change has not come fast enough for too many Americans, I know that,” and continued: “It hasn’t come fast enough for me either. And I know it hasn’t come fast enough for many of you who fought so hard during the election. The fact is, it took years to get here. It’ll take time to get us out. We’ve known that since the beginning of our campaign. But I hope you take a moment to consider all that we’ve accomplished.”

The video then cut to a clip from the Rachel Maddow Show in which the host recounted all of the legislation Obama had signed over his first year and a half in office.

“So in ways large and small, we’ve begun to deliver on the change we’ve fought so hard for,” he said. “We’re not done. We’re working to repeal ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’ We’re working to close Guantanamo in a responsible way. Thanks to the heroism of our troops, we are poised to end our combat mission in Iraq by the end of August.”

With that, he made his pitch for the liberal base to get fired up for the midterm elections.

“We’re moving America forward,” he said. “When we’ve come this far, we can’t afford to slide back. And that’s the choice America faces this November. Between going back to the failed policies that got us into this mess, and moving forward with policies that are leading us out. I don’t need to tell you that. What I’m asking you is to keep making your voices heard. To keep holding me accountable. To keep up the fight. Change is hard. If we’ve learned anything these past 18 months, it’s that change is possible. It’s possible when folks like you remember the fundamental truth of our democracy: that change doesn’t come from the top down, it comes from the bottom up. It comes from the Netroots, the grassroots, every American who loves their country and believes they can make a difference. We’ve done it before. We can do it again. Let’s finish what we’ve started.”