Saturday, January 23, 2010

Obama calls in outside help...but from David Plouffe?

That old gang of mine: Obama with (l-r) Robert Gibbs, David Plouffe, David Axelrod

In the aftermath of the disastrous (for Democrats) victory of Scott Brown in Massachusetts and with the President's standing with voters declining while opposition to his policies is on the rise, the White House has finally sent out a call for outside help. Well, sort of outside help.

According to the Washington Post, Obama's 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe -- generally regarded as a political and organizational whiz -- "will be taking on an expanded role as an outside adviser to the White House."

I was expecting something like this, because when a President is in as much trouble as Obama is, the usual course is to bring in some fresh blood or fire a few people or both. When he faced similar problems after the 1994 mid-terms elections swept the GOP into power on Capitol Hill, Bill Clinton turned to an old advisor who had not been part of his 1992 campaign or early administration, Dick Morris. Despite fierce backbiting from other top Clinton aides, Morris helped the President to shape a new governmental approach and political strategy that was decisive in Clinton's strong comeback and victory in 1996.

But Plouffe is no Morris. Part of the same tight-knit crew in Chicago that ran Obama's 2008 campaign, along with key political aides David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, Plouffe may not have the independence or the inclination to rock any boats -- although all signs point to Obama's White House needing some serious boat rocking and maybe one or two capsizes.

Indeed, Plouffe has an op-ed in today's Washington Post in which he advises that the Administration and Congress's response to the popular unpopularity of their programs should be to put heads down and barrel through as if nothing had happened in Massachusetts -- or Virginia or New Jersey.

Of course, Plouffe may be putting up a smokescreen, affirming publicly that the plans forged by his colleagues have been right all along, while intending to advise the President to change course. Something tells me this won't happen. Plouffe's new role looks an awful lot like a way to gin up some new sales strategies for stuff that no one is buying.

What do you think? Post a comment.

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