That, and other news, in today's Roundup and Recap.
The debate over a healthcare reform "public option" — and whether it is still a possibility— is surely to be front and center at an event tonight at the Beverly Hilton, where White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina will speak to a group of young professionals from the entertainment industry and elsewhere in Los Angeles. They are part of GenerationFortyFour, the outgrowth of Generation Obama which raised money and canvassed for Barack Obama during last year's election. Tickets start at $100-per-person, and White House political director Patrick Gaspard also is expected to be present.
Messina and Gaspard also appear at a dinner beforehand at the home of Thomas Safran, with tickets starting at $2,500 per person.
There's been some consternation as to whether Obama's team wasted an opportunity to mobilize the grassroots in time for the healthcare debate. David Corn writes in Politics Daily that it stands in contrast to Ronald Reagan's effort to drum up support from constituents as he pursued his agenda after taking office in 1981.
Bon Voyage: As he prepares to head to France to start his ambassadorship, Charles Rivkin, former head of Wildbrain Media and the Jim Henson Co., spoke to the New York Times about his role as a noncareer diplomat and what helped train him for the post. At 47, he is the youngest envoy in the post in Paris in 46 years.
Brian Knowlton writes, "In 2002, Mr. Rivkin, something of a Tinseltown wunderkind, was chief
executive of the entertainment world’s Jim Henson Company. For a
Christmas movie featuring the world-beloved Muppets, a Henson crew
filmed Kermit and Snoop Dogg rapping together.
"Mr. Rivkin soon
found himself in a media firestorm, having to defend the casting, in a
kids’ show, of the ex-convict and former gang member. “Snoop is a
pop-culture icon,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “We respect him as
an artist." In the end, however, the scene was cut because, a Henson
statement said, it “did not advance the story line.”
this have to do with being ambassador? Everything, said Mr. Rivkin by
telephone from San Diego recently as he was packing for Paris.
a natural segue,” he said, referring not just to the Dogg-frog flap but
to his broader background in children’s television. From the brilliant
Mr. Henson, Mr. Rivkin said, he learned powerful lessons about
communicating, and his background in children’s entertainment “prepared
me well to engage Europe’s young generation of first-time voters”
through digital technology and the sort of “smart power” initiatives
advocated by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton."
As co-chair of Barack Obama's Southern California finance committee, Rivkin raised more than $500,000 for the campaign.
Marriage Shift: The White House issued a statement from President Obama today that said that the Defense of Marriage Act is "discriminatory." The statement came as the Department of Justice filed a new brief defending DOMA, something that the White House says it is obligated to do. In June, gay activists were riled when the DOJ filed a brief that provided a much more rigorous defense of the law.
President Obama's statement: "Today, the Department of Justice has filed a response to a legal challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged. This brief makes clear, however, that my Administration believes that the Act is discriminatory and should be repealed by Congress. I have long held that DOMA prevents LGBT couples from being granted equal rights and benefits. While we work with Congress to repeal DOMA, my Administration will continue to examine and implement measures that will help extend rights and benefits to LGBT couples under existing law."