How Can David Plouffe Save Obama and the Democrats from . . . Themselves?

I”m sorry, but if the White House honestly believes that the fluff story they fed the media this weekend about how David Plouffe’s “return” would transform the Obama Presidency will “reassure nervous Democrats,” they’re still missing the point.

The Obama Presidency is struggling, perhaps failing, because Obama himself has not become the leader the times and his own rhetoric demand, and because he continues to surround himself with advisers who symbolize what voters thought his Presidency would oppose.

Bringing Plouffe in to rally the troops won’t change these facts. Obama won the Presidency partly by running against one of the most unpopular and despised Presidents ever and by implicitly promising to end Bush’s lawless actions, reverse disastrous economic/financial policies and then restore government accountability and responsiveness to the public interest. It didn’t take a genius to realize that strategy had appeal.

But it is quite another thing to ask even a political genius to create a campaign to save the Democratic Party and the country when you’re essentially running against your own President’s policies and leaderhip failure. No one has explained how David Plouffe or anyone else can pull that off without transforming Obama himself and replacing the failures who surround him.

Let’s just walk through the story the White House spoon fed to the New York Times (and others) on the Plouffe-to-the-rescue theme:

Mr. Obama has asked his former campaign manager, David Plouffe, to oversee House, Senate and governor’s races to stave off a hemorrhage of seats in the fall. . . .

In addition to Mr. Plouffe, who will primarily work from the Democratic National Committee in consultation with the White House, several top operatives from the Obama campaign will be dispatched across the country to advise major races as part of the president’s attempt to take greater control over the midterm elections, aides said.

So, who are these “top operatives” and where have they been? Is there any overlap between those top operatives and the folks who have been advising the White House all along, and who are thus responsible for the “hemorrhage” risk, and if so, how is that supposed to be reassuring?

“We are turning the corner to a much more political season,” said David Axelrod, a senior adviser, who confirmed Mr. Plouffe’s role. “We are going to evaluate what we need to do to get timely intelligence and early warnings so we don’t face situations like we did in Massachusetts.”

It would have been helpful for Axelrod to admit that the opposition party “turned the corner” in January 2009, and has since supplied about 4 votes total for the stimulus, the budget, financial reform, health care and so on, accompanied by a torrent of abuse, insults, lies, demonization and demogoguery. With the President wasting time pursuing mythical “moderate” Republicans, their most virulent attackers had the political battlefield virtually to themselves and we’ve got slaughtered Democratic candidates in several states to show for it.

Improving tactical operations addresses only part of his challenge. A more complicated discussion under way, advisers said, is how to sharpen the president’s message and leadership style.

Uh, I think that’s Beltway code for saying the President hasn’t shown the kind of leadership people want to follow. So how does bringing in Plouffe solve that?

The White House was caught off guard when it became clear that Democrats were in danger of losing [the MA Senate race], and by the time alarm bells sounded from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, it was too late.

Translation: We’re blaming the DSCC, not the DNC, even though it was our hand-picked guy heading the DNC and our people staffing it.

Mr. Plouffe built a reputation in 2008 as a master of the nuts and bolts of campaigns, and will assemble a team to provide unfiltered information that serves as an early-warning system so the White House and party officials know if a candidate is falling behind.

So let’s see: The White House has been getting only filtered information — who are the filters who badly served Obama? And even though everyone in the galaxy knew the WH saw the MA Sen. seat as the essential 60th vote, no one in the WH thought it important to have unfiltered intelligence there.

The party is trying to become less reliant on polls conducted by candidates, which can often paint a too-rosy picture of the political outlook. The president’s leading pollster, Joel Benenson, will be among those conducting research for Mr. Plouffe, aides said, along with others who will divide the country by regions.

Yeah, this was all Martha Coakley’s and her pollster’s fault. Move along.

The long and messy legislative fight over health care is a leading example of how Mr. Obama has failed to connect with voters, advisers say, because he appeared to do whatever it would take to get a bill rather than explain how people could benefit.

“The process often overwhelmed the substance,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. “We need to find ways to try to rise above the maneuvering.”

Translation: This is the WH still pretending voters aren’t angry with all the backroom deals and bailouts for private insurers, hospitals and big PhRMa, matching the pattern with Wall Street banks; voters, the WH tells us, are just confused and distracted by process and maneuvering.

There isn’t a single message in this entire spoon-fed fluff piece that suggests the White House understands or concedes how badly THEY have screwed up and lost credibility.

Instead, the real news is that the White House is still pushing the wrong guy, Ben “jobs don’t matter” Bernanke for the Federal Reserve, still defending the Geithner/Summers altatross, and still failing to provide leadership in the public interest on the health bill. But not to worry, we may not have a substantial jobs program, but we’ve got this nifty “Middle Class [Commission Task Force” that [hopes to] expand child care credits (good)[but non-refundable (bad)] for those who still have jobs. Good luck, Mr. Plouffe.


WaPo/David Plouffe, November doesn’t need to be a nightmare for Democrats

The American Prospect/Dean Baker, Fox on Fifteenth (aka The Washington Post) Endorses Bernanke

Naked Capitalism/Yves Smith, Tell Senate “No” on Bernanke Cloture

Grasping Reality . . ./Brad DeLong, This is not what I elected you to do, Barack Obama; Do Better!

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