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How did Obama get the crowd chanting “Get a Mop!”

How did Obama get the crowd chanting “Get a Mop!”?
By Eric Black

Pres. Obama spoke at a DNC fund-raiser in New York yesterday. He didn’t make much news and the talk didn’t get much coverage. It was the nine-month anniversary of his inauguration and he summarized what he has done so far. Yes, of course it was a fairly self-serving summary. And he fed some partisan cooking — not exactly red meat, as that is not his style nor an appropriate tone for a sitting president — to the all-Dem crowd.

As I read the text of his remarks, I was most amused by the new crowd chant: “Get A Mop.” I’ll paste an excerpt just below so you can see how it works, and also catch the current state-of-the-art version of Obama’s long-standing refrain about how he really wants to work across the aisle but can’t find many Republican reciprocators.

If I was analyzing the message, I would say Obama is struggling to keep people thinking about how bad things were under Bush (who is never mentioned by name) rather than focus on their frustrations with the status quo nine months into the Obama era.

The takeoff point for the excerpt is that while he was talking about the health care bills, someone in the audience had shouted out “PUBLIC OPTION” and someone else “SINGLE PAYER…”

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OBAMA:  Let me say this, because somebody just brought up something.  (Laughter.)  Among Democrats and progressives there are a whole set of views about how we should do health care.  But understand that the bill you least like in Congress right now, the one you least like of the five that are out there would provide 29 million Americans health care — 29 million Americans who don’t have it right now would get it.  The bill you least like would prevent insurance companies from barring you from getting health insurance because of preexisting conditions.  (Applause.)  Whatever the bill you least like would set up an exchange so that people right now who are having to try to bargain for health insurance on their own are suddenly part of a pool of millions that forces insurance companies to compete for their business and give them better deals and lower rates.  (Applause.)  

So there are going to be some disagreements and details to work out.  But to the Democrats, I want to say to you, Democrats, let’s make sure that we keep our eye on the prize.  (Applause.)  And that is, all those millions of Americans who don’t have health insurance and all those who do have health insurance that are seeing their costs go up, if we get a bill — when we get a bill that delivers on those issues —


OBAMA:  ‘When.’  That’s what I said.  (Applause.)  Then we have to do everything we can to support it.  You know, sometimes Democrats can be their own worst enemies.  (Applause.)  Democrats are an opinionated bunch.  (Applause.)  You know, the other side, they just kind of — sometimes — do what they’re told.  (Laughter.)  Democrats, you all are thinking for yourselves.  (Applause.)  I like that in you.  But it’s time for us to make sure that we finish the job here.  We are this close.  And we’ve got to be unified.  (Applause.)

And to all those non-Democrats who may be in the audience  — (laughter) — or who are watching our webcast, or who will hear about this on cable — (laughter) — I want you to know I believe in a strong and loyal opposition.  I believe in a two-party system where ideas are tested and assumptions are challenged.  That’s made this legislation that we’re working on better and more durable.  That’s how our democracy works.  That’s a good thing. 

But what I reject is when some folks decide to sit on the sidelines and root for failure on health care — (applause) — or they root for failure on reforming our energy system, or they root for failure on getting the Olympics.  I mean, who’s against the Olympics?  (Laughter and applause.)  What’s up with that?  (Laughter.)  You know?  That’s a sad thing, isn’t it? 


OBAMA:  I mean, I don’t care if you’re Democrat or Republican — you know, it’s the Olympics.  (Laughter and applause.)  Come on!  (Applause.)  What I reject is when some folks, all they’ve got to say is, let’s go back and do the things that we were doing that got us into this mess in the first place.  (Applause.) We understand exactly who and what got us into this mess (emphasis added). That’s all — that’s all they’ve got to say.  Like we forgot.  (Laughter.)  We didn’t forget.  It was only nine months ago.  (Laughter and applause.) 

(Applause.)  Now, we don’t mind cleaning it up — I’m grabbing my mop and my broom and — (laughter) — we’re scrubbing the floors and trying to neaten things up.

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But don’t just stand there and say, “You’re not holding the mop right.”  (Laughter and applause.)  Don’t just stand there and say, “You’re not mopping fast enough.”  (Applause.)  Don’t accuse me of having a socialist mop.  (Laughter and applause.)  Instead of standing on the sidelines, why don’t you grab a mop?  (Applause.)  Help us clean up this mess and get America back on track!  (Applause.)  Grab a mop!  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Grab a mop!  Grab a mop!  Grab a mop!

OBAMA:  That’s right.

AUDIENCE:  Grab a mop!  Grab a mop!  Grab a mop!

OBAMA:  Hey, I don’t mind cleaning it up, but you know — sheesh!  (Laughter.)  Feel a little shame.  Help out a little bit.  (Applause.)  All of us in Washington — Democrats, Republicans — we all have a responsibility to rise to this occasion; to look past our differences; recognize that we’ve got to move past the failed policies and broken politics that allowed our unresolved problems to stay unsolved for decades.  I will work with anyone and everyone that’s willing to do exactly that.  And in their heart of hearts, even some of our opponents, they know.  They know.

We had Bill Frist and Bob Dole both say we need to do a health care bill.  Now, they didn’t endorse some specific bill.  They said, let’s work constructively.  Of course, they’re retired.  (Laughter.)  So they could go ahead and speak the truth.  But there are times, there are moments in this country where everybody needs to speak the truth — and act on the truth.  (Applause.)   That’s what people are counting on right now.

What think?