Time to stop whining about Obama’s Vegas comment


Oscar Goodman

Even Mayor Oscar Goodman is now satisfied that President Barack Obama doesn’t harbor super-secret anti-Vegas feelings.

This week, the President’s press secretary Robert Gibbs went out of his way to clarify the Commander in Chief’s Feb. 9 comment that companies that accept federal bailout money shouldn’t use the money to party in Las Vegas.

(The R-J’s Benjamin Spillman has the whole story in today’s edition.)

"I don't think the president said don't go to Las Vegas," Gibbs said. "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."

And, at the risk of losing my Las Vegas residency and being branded a blind liberal, the President was right.

Goodman expressed his outrage because, frankly, that’s his style and his job as mayor to be the protector of all things Vegas. Since then, the absurd issue has taken on a life of its own.

And we’ve read and heard press and pundit accounts about how the President’s comments led to the cancellation of hundreds of millions of dollars in convention business in the past 90 days.

This just isn’t true.

Want proof?

Obama uttered his comment Feb. 9.

A substantial percentage of cancellations occurred before then. Almost all of those cancellations were going to happen no matter what some politician said.

Obviously, Obama’s comment didn’t help Las Vegas at a time it’s hurting. And every convention and junket and veiled excuse to party on the Strip hurts our economy. All true.

But do you really want bankers who grab billions in bailout funds to use the money to send employees on non-convention vacations to the Strip? I don’t. An actual convention is one thing, but that’s not what Wells Fargo had planned for its “appreciation” vacation.

It wasn’t appropriate and it sent the wrong message.

I suppose it would also be good for business if those same bankers took the bailout money and blew it all at the dice tables in Las Vegas. But it’s not what the Wall Street welfare was intended for.

It’s time to stop the simpering and whining about this and move on. (Insert hopeful quote from R&R Partners boss and big Obama supporter Billy Vassiliadis here.)

But what are the odds that will happen?