Sunday, January 24, 2010

The 'Plouffe' Stops Here

Less than a week after the Massachusetts 'Mass acre,' President Barack Obama has finally invoked 'Transparency' into his presidency.

No, he will not be pulling out his BlackBerry and ringing C-Span's Brian Lamb and inviting him into the hallowed, but generally, secretive halls of Congress. Instead, Mr. Obama has dispatched himself aboard Air Force One; and his flight-plan led to the very epicenter of the Rust Belt.

It couldn't of been too soon, either. And while his plane still idled at a nearby Ohio airport, President Obama visited a few blue-collar factories and met with some ordinary folk.

He talked with students at the Loraine County Community College and even made an impromptu stop at a local diner.

He got a little angry too. Obama invoked the word "fight" at least twenty times during his speech to the job-stricken townspeople of Elyria, Ohio. I "will never stop fighting," said Obama.

The 'Transparency' was - well, obvious.

Senator-Elect Scott Brown had only four days earlier, put the Democratic Party, and Obama specifically, on notice. Obama quickly understood, even before Martha Coakley conceded to Brown, that Massachusetts did not buy his message.

Instead of the 'Audacity of Hope,' Obama had the audacity to pejoratively diss Scott Brown's pick-up truck.

Obama should of learned a lesson from some of the 'other' Rust Belt types. The same way Wagoner, Nardelli and Mulally surely learned their valuable lesson after being questioned during Congressional hearings on their respective management styles. Imagine Obama driving an old Ford F-150 into town - with 'SEIU' and 'Yes We Can' stickers emblazoned on the rear cabin glass.

Fox News and the rest of the media would have eaten him alive for such a stunt. Of course, save for the 'rest of the media,' Fox News already eats Obama alive.

No, the Obama Administration's "It's the Economy, Stupid," and "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs," came out of their anemic political playbook. A playbook that looks about as good as the Washington Redskins' playbook looked this season. The fans knew that Jim Zorn's strategy was way off after the first few games of the season. Similarly, the voters knew, especially those without employment, that Obamacare would never lead them to the Super Bowl - or at least away from the local unemployment line.

Now, Mr Obama is enlisting his Brett Favre back onto the field. Axelrod, Emanuel and Jarrett have been temporarily benched - or at least put on injured reserve. David Plouffe, his former campaign manager, will be taking the snaps from center now.

And that is where the administration will be headed - to the center - much like former President Clinton had to do early in his first term. Obama will spare no expense for Mr. Plouffe. The Obama team may even get creative and align themselves with the 'netroots' crowd and other anti-Washington types.

After all, President Obama and his administration will have to worry about a lot more than filibusters and cloture votes. They will have to worry about a 1994 mid-term election repeat. And David Plouffe will be Obama's main don't-want-a-'94-repeat-strategist-in-chief while he works the politics behind the scenes of the Democratic National Committee.

It is yet to be seen if Plouffe and his team can indoctrinate the DNC with Rovian magic, or if Obama himself will force some of his closest advisers out of his inner circle.

One thing is for sure. He should listen to the people outside of Washington for advice. And he should finally acknowledge the 800-pound gorilla that's been camping out in the Oval Office over the last twelve months.

He need not retrench himself back into the very partisan dogma for which he has here-to-fore perfunctorily dismissed earlier in his presidency.

Contrition goes a long way, in fact.

In 2008, the electorate voted for the anti-Bush candidate, to pull troops out of Iraq and to bring a new leadership back into Washington. Health care reform was never a mandate - it was a long-held personal ideological goal that Obama had and thus pushed upon Congress, the media and the citizenry. Obama, Congress and the left-leaning media pushed so hard that Populists, Independents and the Tea Party gang shook their collective heads and forged a grass-roots coalition against what they felt was a kamikaze-like arrogance that Team Obama had perpetrated.

In his Jan. 24, 2010 Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post, Plouffe's main point failed the smell test. He claims that the health care reform bill will bring jobs. "We own the bill and the health-care votes," says Plouffe. He also calls it "a good plan that's become a demonized caricature."

More problematic for Plouffe and Obama is that a Nor'easter that developed along the Virginia coast and turned into Hurricane Mitch, sweeping unapologetically through New Jersey and making landfall in the Bay State. The political winds had shifted and the administration seems tone deaf to political reality.

David Plouffe needs the political will to confront White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel if he is to avoid a Pyrrhic victory. Plouffe must stop the ridiculousness of the administration's current trajectory and reorient his bosses' strategy if they are to end the harbinger that awaits in the 2010 mid-terms in November.

Plouffe's task is way more than "getting back on message," or refocusing the president's talking points. Obama must come clean with the American people, streamline his rhetoric about the denizens of Wall Street and avoid platitudes, arguments ad-metum and his ubiquitous populistic approach for which he is headed.

Someone needs to tell the president to put down his pitchfork and invite the Republicans to a seat at the table.

Because his current offense desperately needs some first downs before it can make its way to the playoffs.

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