Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Biden's less than townee meeting

Vice President Joe Biden gave a couple of impromtu speeches during a supposed town-hall meeting streamed live over the Internet by 9News yesterday.

I watched, and then I tried to write something about what I listened to, but for the life of me could not remember much. It all seemed so blah, blah, blah.

Biden had a few moments. "These are real, live jobs, for a real, live future," I heard him say. "These jobs are going to be high-paying, good jobs." And, "It's not just about a job, it's about a job people can live on."

And Biden and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced a $500 million job-training program that would focus on retraining people nationwide for "green" jobs -- work related to energy efficiency, fixing global warming and saving the world's environment, primarily in the United States.

It was inspiring, and not at all in the spirit of Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadham's critical comment to Denver Post Reporter Jessica Fender about Democrats from Washington: "They're costing more jobs, and they're costing Coloradan families more than they could ever replace with these feel-good government programs they're talking about."

But Wadhams is right (both literally and figuratively) about one thing. The jobs Biden is talking about for the middle class -- the Vice President came to Denver under the auspices of his leadership of a White House Middle Class Task Force -- are so far the fantasies of Washington bureaucrats rationalizing the spending of billions and billions of dollars.

Biden, in fact, said he was coming to Denver as a representative of a government unlike any other in the world. "No government in the world has had a trillion dollar allocation out there" to apply to a nation's jobs formation and the cleaning up of its environment, he said.

And he's correct.

Liberals in America, me among them, and the middle class (I guess I register in the lower portion of that class right now) can thank our national government for dedicating the money it has legislated to rebuilding an economy the past Bush administration, Wall Street and Corporate America has left destitute.

But other than two questions from the audience that actually challenged the bevy of Cabinet members and their top deputies who showed up at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, there was not much town-hall in the town-hall meeting.

Official Colorado and official Washington did most of the talking, and other than the tall stools most of the officials sat on, the look of the meeting, through the lens of 9News, was mostly as if the speakers had a podium separating them from the private club members who surrounded them.

The public was invited to pick up tickets to the event at 9 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Denver Tuesday morning, and I got there at 8:55 hoping to attend the session in person and provide some first-person coverage here in my blog.

But all the 20 or 25 tickets that were made available at the hotel were already given away when I got there, so I came home hoping to pick up coverage of the meeting either on the 9News or Denver Post websites.

Fender and Lynn Bartels were chatting inanely on an instant message board when I got to the Post's site, but then I found the live stream at 9News and was able to turn off the newspaper's silly assignment of two writers trying to do two different things at the same time.

But even the televised version of the session suggested something less than a wide-open-spaces discussion of middle-class restructuring and globe-saving enterprise.

The fixed camera couldn't pick up all participants, and the speeches came off, as I have already said, as blah, blah, blah. In fact, I nearly fell asleep in front of my computer.

But that would be like sleeping on the job. And no one in this economy can afford to do that!

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