John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Viva Las Vegas

Posted on October 24, 2011
Politicians in Washington rushed Nevada into Statehood in 1864 to assure Abraham Lincoln a comfortable margin in his bid for reelection smack dab in the middle of the Civil War, and ever since then, the Silver State has played a unique role in American political history.

Nevada is mostly desert, so it has always been a bit creative in how it has looked at its growth potential. In the early 1900’s, it went the libertarian route, allowing prostitution and gambling, as way to draw more settlers from California. It worked, and Nevadans found a formula that has kept it growing for most of its relatively short history. That is, up until the Obama years.

It was Bugsy Siegel who first thought of building a strip in Las Vegas and the mobsters that followed him gave the city its well-deserved moniker of “Sin City.” An ad campaign that ran a few years ago – “What Goes In Vegas, Stays in Vegas” – helped cement that reputation.

Las Vegas is not necessarily family-friendly. You drive into the city and you see ads on the billboards that would make you blush if you were going with your inquisitive five-year old, for example. In fact, it has one of the highest crime rates in the country, although most of that is attributed to boorish behavior by out of town visitors.

Barack Obama has been very, very bad for Las Vegas. At the height of the economic collapse, Obama publicly urged companies not to have their retreats in Vegas. What he failed to realize is that all of those corporate gatherings helped employ all of those poor suckers who swept Obama into office the first time (and hopefully, the last time).

Obama has done nothing to fix the housing mess, and in fact, all of his proposals have made the situation worse. Mitt Romney stumbled onto the truth when he said that the only way out of the morass is for the market to hit a real bottom, so that investors can have some confidence that this indeed is a good time to buy.

Obama’s strategy has been to give homeowners temporary life-lines, and then pass laws making it harder for banks to loan. Nice going.

Nevada has an interesting mix of people. The biggest religious group is Catholics, at 25 percent, many Hispanic, but a good percentage of whom are Irish and Italian. Mormons make up the second biggest religious sect at around 15 percent, and the third largest denomination is Southern Baptist, which claims about 12 percent of the population. None of these religions or denominations can be called socially liberal or libertarian. And yet Nevada’s biggest city is a paragon of vice for all the world to enjoy.

That makes for some interesting politics. Nevada has correctly picked every eventual Presidential winner since 1912, except when it voted against Jimmy Carter and for Gerry Ford (that turned out to be the right vote).

It voted twice for Bill Clinton, twice for George W. Bush, and once for Barack Hussein Obama. Mr. Obama is visiting there again today in the hopes of convincing Nevadans that he isn’t the disaster that he seems to be. In other words, he wants them to not believe their eyes, but be beguiled by his voice.

The gamblers in Las Vegas took a big gamble by going all in for the President last time around. My guess is that they won’t make that same mistake next November.