Goodman, Gibbons completely miss the point


So the president of the United States takes time out of his extremely busy schedule — you know, recession, collapsing industries, North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, climate change, health care reform, that kind of thing — to make a special trip to Las Vegas. He stays overnight in a Strip resort, speaks at a big fund-raiser for the state’s senior senator and tours a large solar plant at the local Air Force base and speaks to more than 400 personnel there. During his visit, Obama publicly endorses “this beautiful city” as a great place “for a quick trip.” Referring to the solar plant, he says: “In this case, what happens in Vegas should not stay in Vegas.”

This is Mayor Oscar Goodman’s reaction: “The magic words didn’t come out.”

This is Gov. Jim Gibbons’ reaction: “The remarks he did make, I think, were better than nothing. They were also next to nothing in terms of the impact, the damage that was created by his original prohibition. If that’s the best he can do, I’m disappointed he didn’t come out a little stronger.”

Goodman and Gibbons have been huffing and puffing since Obama said in February that companies receiving government bailouts should not be sending their employees on junkets to Las Vegas.

Obama was not wrong about this. Most Americans surely don’t want to see bailout money used for funtime trips to Las Vegas. But the comment was followed by a sudden downtown in convention and conference business in Las Vegas. It certainly wasn’t all Obama’s fault — troubled companies were going to cut out this perks anyway — but his admonition probably contributed to the rush of cancellations.

So, Goodman and Gibbons were looking for Obama to gush his praise for Las Vegas. When Goodman mentioned “the magic words,” I think he was looking for some kind of apology.

Obama had nothing to apologize for. Yet his trip served as a form of apology, an effort to boost the city’s flagging economy.

Rep. Shelley Berkley recognized this: “I am more than just satisfied with his remarks. I am thrilled that President Obama made the trip to Nevada and as a result of his visit, the words ‘Las Vegas’ are echoing around the globe. That is the kind of positive publicity that no amount of money can buy.”

That is the response of a mature person.

Here’s another mature response, from Rossi Ralenkotter, president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority: “Many times, someone’s actions speak louder than words. The president of the United States came to Las Vegas, he conducted business here, he stayed in one of our world-class hotels. It brought a tremendous amount of attention.”

Too bad Goodman and Gibbons were so focused on firing off snarky comments that they couldn’t figure out what was happening.