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Beautiful Theories Destroyed by Ugly Facts

The 2008 Primary Map. Take THAT, David Plouffe!

Edward Luce at The Financial Times wrote a piece called America: The Fearsome Foursome and it’s all about how everything in the WH is run by a small evil group to which no one we know belongs.  Yep, everything bad that has ever happened in the past year is the fault of Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod. It’s all because this Gang of Four are in campaign mode, a *brilliant*, scintillatingly genius, never-before-seen-by-the-likes-of-man campaign mode where they came from behind and fought the party establishment and conventional wisdom and the vicious media to overcome all odds and triumph to make their way to the highest office of the land.  It brings a tear to my eye, I tells ya’.  It’s like Mike Eruzione leading the US Hockey team to victory against the Russkis at the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980.  A Miracle! A Miracle!

Can we just cut the crap, please?

If the White House is in campaign mode, then Barack Obama is the campaign manager.  That’s how his campaign worked, according to David Plouffe in his book from just a few months ago, The Audacity to Win.  Barack Obama was a “hands-on” candidate and was the pilot of his campaign, according to Plouffe.  I would interpret this to mean that he approved of pulling his name off of the Michigan ballot, thereby screwing voters in MI and every Hillary voter in the country by extension.  And he must have been cool with the misogyny of the media too, right?  Some nice guy you got there for a president, eh?  By the way, Amazon’s review of the book is full of delightful details like:

Plouffe’s prose, alas, doesn’t much sweeten the deal. It’s filled with business-speak (“takeaway” used repeatedly as a noun, as in, “It certainly was not the chief takeaway from the debate”; gratuitous, macho-posturing profanity (“they picked Sarah goddamn Palin,” “let’s go win this [expletive] thing”); and a surfeit of baseball metaphors (“brushback pitch,” “unforced errors,” “[expletive] home run”).

If you’re looking for clues as to why this White House is screwed up, look no further than business jargon, that collection of “power words” that function as secret code words that identify the club members to each other but upon further investigation mean absolutely nothing.  Corporate culture is full of them.  When we hear our new CEOs say them during “Town Hall” meetings  and hear his sycophants dutifully repeating them in endless slide presentations, we start getting our affairs in order because the mergers and pink slips aren’t far behind.

Oh, yes, Obama is in charge all right.  His White House is painfully similar to a typical corporate executive department, which gives me a pretty good clue about who actually got him into office in the first place.

But let’s talk about the message that the FT piece sends.  In a nutshell, it sounds like Rahm Emannuel is ruining everything and that he’s not so good with 11th Dimensional Chess after all.

Well, there’s your problem right there.  According to most cosmic physicists, the human mind is incapable of understanding more than, oh, three dimensions on a good day.  Four is really pushing it for even the smartest among us.  Even Rahm.  11 is just beyond human comprehension.  It’s like, the geeks turn out these beautiful equations with some weird constant to the 11th power and they say, “Wow! That’s totally mind blowing.  WTF does it mean?  Hey, let’s go to Chuck’s for some wings for lunch.”  Those are the guys who can think to the 6th dimension.  (Or chemistry students who see that little “^” thingy in quantum chemistry and just apply it without really truly understanding what the f^*& that thing is and then burn the book after the final.)  That’s because, when you get into the REAL world, theories only get you so far after you graduate.  That’s when you have to apply your powers of observation and experience and refer to theory.

It’s cool to know some really great theoreticians and understand their work but when it comes right down to doing the day-to-day work, you read a lot of papers based on actual practice.  If the theory can’t be reduced to practice and the results replicated, it isn’t any damn good.

So, here we have a White House run by a corporate biz-speak accolyte, whose entire reduction to practice experience in applying the 11th dimensional chess game theory totals 142 days in the Senate. He has virtually no legislative experience to speak of.  I imagine his real skills are that he has mastered a certain attitude that is suave and debonnair (pronounced swave and de-boner for the uninitiated).  He looks like he swings a big dick.  He can use baseball metaphors with aplomb.  To get ahead, he’s charming to his colleagues (at first) and gets them to help him understand what they’re doing.  He gets them to share their secrets with him.  Then, as soon as he gets what he needs, he goes running to the guy two levels above him and has a chat.  Makes it looks like he figured all this stuff out by himself.  Says, “Her?  She’s good but she doesn’t really understand blah like you and I do.”  Pretty soon, the old chap is eating out of his hands.  (We corporate rats could write scads of papers on this technique, having seen it in action about a bazillion times.  And by the way, we’re getting really tired of it.  It’s costing us our jobs.)

And now his Fearsome Foursome is standing guard.  Ready to take a bullet for the guy, the one who is now in charge and is running everything, having gotten the confidence of the old guys.  They’re a slick bunch, that foursome.  They’ve got people actually believing that it’s not Obama’s fault that the country is the way it is and he can’t do anything about it.  He inherited this mess.  He didn’t make it messy.  It was BUUUUUSHH!

Yeah, like we didn’t see that coming.  It’s the reason why we didn’t want Obama in the first place.  We preferred the lady engineer who at least knew which mechanisms of government to push to get things done and looked like she read the papers and did her homework.

And it’s not Obama’s fault?  Please.  This is the job he wanted.  We all knew before he ran that the country was going to be a train wreck.  The Des Moines Register endorsed Hillary Clinton back in December of 2007 because they knew it was going to be a train wreck.  He inherited a train wreck and he knew it going in.  If he didn’t think he could do the job, he shouldn’t have run.  And Democrats who had been accurately predicting disaster for years during the Bush administration should have known better and not voted for him or promoted him and CERTAINLY shouldn’t be making excuses for him now.  Take responsibility for putting Obama in office and stop ignoring the ugly facts! It is a recipe for failure.

This is the real world in 4 dimensions with real people’s lives at stake.  It is not a game.


cx4800 found this video of the Des Moines Register endorsement from Dec. 2007.  The tone of the endorsement was absolutely clear: given the state of the country, this was no time to be day dreaming with Obama.  Obama knew full well that he was going to inherit a catastrophe and the Des Moines Register knew he wasn’t ready for it.

We *all* knew.

Friday: Things that really piss us off

Allan Katx, Proud RBC Committee Member

Allan Katz, Proud RBC Committee Member

So, David Plouffe went to Harvard the other day to muse hypothetically about what might have happened if Florida had actually, um, *counted* back in February:

“In fact, we might not have been the nominee,” Mr. Plouffe said at a forum sponsored by the Kennedy School of Government.

Mr. Plouffe said that he was surprised – and relieved – when the Clinton campaign bowed to pressure from early primary states, including Iowa and New Hampshire, and agreed not to campaign in Florida after the state defied the Democratic National Committee and scheduled its primary before Feb. 3. That spared the Obama campaign the burden of running in a state where all sides agreed Mrs. Clinton was very strong.

“The Florida primary was always of concern to us,” Mr. Plouffe said. “When they agreed to do it in the Clinton campaign, I was really surprised.”

(The vote was held, and Mrs. Clinton won, but the Democratic National Committee said that delegates won there would not count in determining the outcome of the race.)

The way it turned out, Mr. Obama crushed Mrs. Clinton in South Carolina on Jan. 26 and rolled into Super Tuesday on Feb. 5, when there were more than 20 states holding contests. Florida would have taken place on Feb. 29, which Mr. Plouffe argued could have made everyone forget South Carolina.

“If we hadn’t had that moment of velocity coming out of South Carolina — particularly after losing New Hampshire – I don’t know if we could have survived Feb. 5,” he said.

Well, wasn’t that nice.  They were relieved that Clinton had stuck to her agreement because that meant Obama didn’t have to spend money and time in a state he knew he couldn’t win at the same time they could work with Obama’s enablers in the DNC to fuck over Floridians, Hillary and the rest of the country’s Hillary voters.

I can just imagine Plouffe, Axelrod, Brazile and Obama himself sniggering and patting themselves on the back for pulling a fast one over on Hillary the sucker and the rest of us.  High fives all around.  I mean, why bother treating your voters with respect when the other guy makes it completely unnecessary?

There are business courses available for people who want to figure out how to get what they want and believe it or not, they never recommend the aproach that Obama took.  Oh, that doesn’t mean that the management types ever take the advice but the pros who teach this stuff make a point that playing the game by cheating and backstabbing is limited short-term thinking.  *Supposedly*, good negotiators operate in good faith and are up front and honest.  Good game players triumph over evil in the end blah-de-blah-de-blah.  So, maybe Hillary’s crew were a bit over confident that they could win in the end.  But I can still remember the night of SuperTuesday when even Karl Rove thought that Obama would have a hard time pulling off a primary win.  Well, SURE, but that’s only because Rove was counting Florida and possibly Michigan.  It was probably only a hearbeat later when Rove realized what a brilliantly devious thing it would be for the media to suppress Floridians and pretend it didn’t count.

Did Hillary have a choice in the matter?  Allan Katz, the Floridian RBC member who screwed us all royally and says he is now proud of it would probably say “no”.  The RBC’s decision of the previous August to strip FL and MI of their votes made the RBC members into minor celebrities.  Whoo-hoo!  15 minutes of fame and all that.  They.  Had. The.  Powwwwwer!!!  What a moment in the sun, a chance to make a solemn, momentous decision on TV, a day that will live in infamy when the petty bureaucrats had a chance to make the 2008 election into a teachable moment about race.

How delighted they must be that they elevated skin color over character so that now we have the specter of four years of Jon Favreau, Rod Blagojevich and the Villagers holding the White House hostage if their cushy status quo is disrupted.  This is the price that the rest of us pay.  The Democratic party has covered itself with dishonor.  Oh, sure, it *won*.  But the consequences of not bargaining in good faith are that now voters sincerely believe that there isn’t a bit of difference between the parties, that all politicians are crooked and that you can’t trust any of them.  Obama won because the Republicans were sooooo baaaad.  But in the future, the Democratic party will have a much harder time making its case.  It has lost the moral high ground.  It ripped the nomination from one of its most deserving, loyalists and gave the finger to the voters.

Mr. Plouffe, we have very long memories.

Obama needs to be The Decider on Florida

The timing of a new Florida primary needs to be settled in the next couple of days:

Another problem is that the state needs 90 days to prepare for a primary once the governor and legislature have signed off on a new election. That approval has not come, and any new primary would have to be held before June 10 to comply with DNC rules.

June 10, however, is 93 days away, and there is no immediate compromise on a statewide election in sight.

Here is the message from the Clinton campaign to Obama’s Campaign:

David Plouffe
P.O. Box 8102
Obama for America
Chicago, Illinois 60680

Dear David:
The 2008 primary campaign has been a spirited contest that has resulted in record voter turnout. Both of our candidates can proudly boast of bringing new people into the process and energizing our Democratic Party.

With the campaign now entering the final phase of the nominating contest, it is vital that both of our campaigns come together to ensure that the delegations from Florida and Michigan be seated to reflect the will of the voters.

In Florida and Michigan, nearly 2.5 million Americans made their voices heard and participated in primary elections. We think the results of those primaries were fair and should be honored.

Over the last few weeks, there has been much discussion about how to ensure that the Florida and Michigan delegations are seated. We think there are two options: Either honor the results or hold new primary elections.

To that end, we are in active consultation with all of our supporters in Florida, including Members of Congress. In Michigan, we are in active consultation with the committee appointed by Governor Granholm.

We hope that your campaign will join us in our efforts to ensure that these votes are counted.


Maggie Williams
Campaign Manager

It’s time for Obama to stop foisting the problem onto the DNC in the hopes of running out the clock. Once the window of opportunity to get a new primary in Florida is closed, there will only be one option: seating the delegation as is. Nothing else will be tolerated. The voters of Florida deserve better and so do the voters of NY, NJ, CA, MA, OH, TX and AZ who are waiting for Obama to be a leader. If he doesn’t seat the delegation representing 1.7 M Florida voters who knew damn well what they were doing, then he will doom the party in November and doesn’t deserve to be president.

Make a decision, Barack.

Update: Big Tent Democrat at TalkLeft posted this about how the Obama campaign is going to ask the DOJ to intervene on the disposition of the Florida primary redo. Do I have to tell anyone that this is the stupidest f%^&ing thing Dean, Brazile and Obama could possibly do? Didn’t they learn anything from the US Supreme Court decision that went contrary to their attempt to count the votes in Florida in 2000? Have they forgottent the disaster that followed from that election catastrophe? I guess not. And this is the BUSH Department of Justice. You know, the one that loaded the civil rights and voting rights divisions with friends of Monica Goodling.

Obama can’t possibly win it now. No frickin’ way.

One more thing: Taylor Marsh summarizes the Florida debacle and it’s consequences eloquently:

Obama, coming off a huge win in South Carolina, with Clinton getting reams of bad publicity at the time, also ran million dollars worth of cable advertisement in Florida. He and Clinton were on the Florida ballot. As I’ve said before on Michigan, Obama chose to take his name off to genuflect to Iowa and New Hampshire. Now Obama wants an even split in Florida, while simultaneously throwing a wrench into a revote. This is about keeping voters from having their votes counted, because Obama is afraid of giving Clinton the advantage