Sunday Show Wrap + Plouffe's New Authority

More

Headline from the Sunday Shows this morning: Obama's in a fighting mood, isn't giving up on health care (but details TBA), White House in lockdown mode in not responding to questions about what Obama will say about his budget -- and Ben Bernanke's confirmation to his second FED term looks pretty much a done deal. So, if you want to stop reading now, go ahead. Permission granted.  I'd like to take the rest of my time with you today to shed a little light on what David Plouffe will be doing at the Democratic National Committee, how it ties in with the White House, and will it will ultimately mean.
As the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza first reported yesterday, Obama asked Plouffe to take an informal supervisory role over the Senate, House and governors races in 2010. What that means in reality is that Plouffe will assign consultants to lead a soup-to-nuts review of not only the DNC's own press/strategy shop -- a review already underway -- but will evaluate each campaign by a series of metrics and then decide whether the White House needs to use its influence to force changes, either in message or strategy or advertising or get-out-the-vote mechanics.

Here's the key: Plouffe doesn't report to David Axelrod, or Jim Messina, the deputy White House chief of staff; or to Jen O'Malley Dillon, the DNC executive director; or to Gov. Tim Kaine, the DNC chairman; or to Patrick Gaspard, the White House political director. He reports to the president. Informally. But this informal channel is Plouffe's and Plouffe's alone. Plouffe is the one who has the power to make the gears move more efficiently.

At the DNC, there is excitement on the Organizing for America side about Plouffe's expanded role. On the regular DNC side of the building, there is a bit of nervous energy, and a sense that the White House is taking over.

But Plouffe will not be at the DNC full time. Party operations will continue to run. Most of his focus will be external -- on the campaigns, rather than on reorganizing the DNC, which has a good and rapidly-responding press operation, a technologically advanced and up-to-date voter database, and -- let's face it -- a steaming pile of dead cabbage to serve to voters this year.

Plouffe is a real smart guy, but he'd be the first to tell you that he's not a genius on the rank of a Karl Rove or a Mark Penn. (Genius means a lot of things.)  What he is is a calm, smart manager with the trust of the president. A person who can make sure that OFA/DNC do their best to facilitate a favorable campaign environment for the Democratic candidates in 2010, a person who can make sure that the White House, to the extent it is possible and appropriate, can devise a political strategy that the DNC can execute.

The White House is doing a bit of dog-whistling. Ears are perked among the Democratic base -- they went through the Obama campaign experience with Plouffe. And among the campaigns -- they know they need to make sure they've got good operations going, or the White House/DNC will flex its muscles -- and members of the DNC staff, who are put on notice that the president expects nothing less than their best efforts for 2010.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

In a series of candid video interviews, women talk about self-image, self-judgment, and what it means to love their bodies


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In