Bring Back the Permanent Campaign!

During the Clinton and Bush years, people frequently bemoaned the 'permanent campaign', the notion of continuing a full blown campaign even after you've won office, and the coarse atmosphere they claimed it inflicted on Washington. But as we've witnessed the failure of Team Obama and congressional democrats to beat the GOP in the media wars and ultimately to win bi-partisan support and ownership of Obama's stimulus plan shows, its necessary. Maybe because he campaigned on changing the hostile culture in Washington, Obama has neglected to bring his vaunted campaign style to the White House. Whatever the reason, its clearly becoming an issue.

Many of us recall that throughout the 2008 campaign, the Obama campaign was continuously lauded for its preternatural campaign discipline, polished management style and coherent campaign message. But these qualities are glaringly absent from the Obama administration and democratic leadership's strategy in support of the stimulus plan. At times it appears that they don't even have one.  

To be fair the stimulus bill's passing through the house of representatives last week was a success but the democrats large majority in congress pretty much guaranteed it passage. The part that should concern everyone is its failure to get bi-partisan support after Team Obama publicly promised to do just that.  Why make the promise if you obviously didn't have the votes? And why set such an ambitious goal if you're not going to mount a cogent media campaign. It seemed direction less. Not at all like the 2008 campaign.

The failure to continue a full force and well messaged campaign in support of the bill came across as painfully amateur and allowed the GOP and the media to go on a tear--giving them both an ample amount of mud to sling. It also helped the GOP carve out a reason to oppose the bill.

Did Obama's team think his dinners and parties would sufficient to win bi-partisan support? Or did they think the publics support of the bill would be enough to smack down nay sayers and
convince congressional republicans get on board? Or is this apart of Obama trying naively to 'change' Washington through the shear force of his personality?

Most congressional republicans team Obama tried to win over were from overwhelmingly conservative districts and didn't give a hoot if the bill passed and the few moderates obviously felt that the GOP sufficiently damaged the bill that they could withhold their support.

There was clearly a failure to prepare, organize and execute a campaign on the part of the Obama administration and the congressional democrats and its led to embarrassment and an emboldened opposition.

So maybe its times Obama quit trying to reject the old ways of Washington or charm an institution into supporting him. Maybe Obama should take a page from Clinton and Bush and bring back the permanent campaign.

Thoughts?

Tags: campaign, clinton, Congress, obama, Republican, stimulus (all tags)

Comments

19 Comments

What?

But as we've witnessed the failure of Team Obama and congressional democrats to beat the GOP in the media wars and ultimately to win bi-partisan support and ownership of Obama's stimulus plan shows, its necessary.

It's been a week and a half since Obama took office.  The stimulus is still in Congress.  You're crackers if you think that there's been sufficient proof of your theory to start mining from George W. Bush's playbook again.

by Dracomicron 2009-02-02 04:42AM | 0 recs
Re: What?

Are you gonna tell me that our sides effort so far has been up to par? The coverage has been pretty brutal. Public support is still high but if this falls through it will kill his momentum and if the stimulus bill fails to help the economly the republicans will have clean hands be able to grill Obama and the dems. He needs them on board for political cover if the stimulus fails and so far they aren't. They're giving each other high fives for christ sake.

And this business of saying 'its only been so long', needs to stop being the catch all excuse. Obama's first week is showing a lack of a campaign and media blitz and it showed. Bush would have the dems on board by now and he would have had the bill pass with no repubs and 11 dems against it.

by cire32 2009-02-02 04:54AM | 0 recs
Re: What?

*wouldn't

by cire32 2009-02-02 04:55AM | 0 recs
...Bush would?

I'm not sure if you're old enough to remember, but Bush went golfing for the first nine months of his presidency.

Snark aside, you're basically calling for Obama to stop being who he is and embrace the politics of the past.  You know, the thing that Obama won by saying he wouldn't do?  

I think Obama's smarter than both of us and am pretty sure he has an angle to get his policy through while controlling the message simultaniously.  Relax.

by Dracomicron 2009-02-02 05:13AM | 0 recs
Re: ...Bush would?

A) I am relaxed. I'm just stating my criticism.

C) The new politics is dinner parties? Idealism is fine but it needs to be complimented by realism. Getting out there and mounting an effective campaign is more effective then the current incoherent one. And Obama never openly campaigned against the concept.

D) Stop with this 'Obama is so smart lets just shut up'.  The guy won a campaign in one the most favorable environments for democrats since 1929.  It doesn't make him invisible. People should be giving their input. Obama himself has encouraged that.

by cire32 2009-02-02 05:23AM | 0 recs
Re: ...Bush would?

A) Excellent.  I'll get the tea.

B) What happened to B?

C) You may or may not have seen the diary here saying that Americans are favoring the stimulus plan 2 to 1 and Obama's favorable numbers are even better than that.  Whouldn't campaigning the way you suggest be gratuitous?

D) You are, of course, correct in that we should all be heard.  I encourage you to make your feelings known on change.gov.  That said, I feel that I should be heard as well when I say that you should relax and let the guy do things the way we elected him to do them.

by Dracomicron 2009-02-02 05:50AM | 0 recs
Re: ...Bush would?

I'm aware that American's favor the plan but what matters more is getting the republicans to get on board. The GOP did after all unanimously vote against the bill in congress. So public opinion is not having much of an effective on them.  If the economy continues to go south the republicans will be able to use the stimulus bill as a weapon in 2010 and make more dems in congress vulnerable having it used against them by opponents in re-election campaigns.

So far Obama is only getting opposition despite his charm offensive and is at risk of not basing the bill with overwhelming support he wanted.

He's popularity and the publics faith won't last forever.

by cire32 2009-02-02 05:59AM | 0 recs
Re: ...Bush would?

My spelling is a mess. lol

by cire32 2009-02-02 06:02AM | 0 recs
See, I don't see it that way

The House vote was "free."  They really weren't risking much in voting against it, because they knew that it was going to come back to them after the Senate had their way with it and made changes.

You really can't look at that and say that there's 100% Republican opposition.  My guess is that quite a few will sign on to cover their asses once it comes around again.

by Dracomicron 2009-02-02 06:03AM | 0 recs
Re: See, I don't see it that way

Maybe so but Obama clearly stated that he wanted major GOP votes. He's not even in that realm right now. I don't see it going back to congress and receiving 80 GOP votes.

by cire32 2009-02-02 06:05AM | 0 recs
Stove: HOT

Right now we're entering hot stove territory for Republicans.  Obama's trying to tell them that they're going to get burned, but Uncle Rush keeps telling them that Obama doesn't have their interests at heart and the stove totally isn't hot.

So the Republicans have to think to themselves: do they listen to Uncle Rush and touch the stove, or do they listen to Obama and avoid getting burned?

by Dracomicron 2009-02-02 06:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Stove: HOT

This isn't about Rush. People on the left just like to believe that because they like to degrade the republicans. The republicans are more astute and strategic then that. Hence them rolling dems continuously for last decade or so.

What the republicans are trying to do is assert their relevance and set the rules and boundaries. So far they are getting little push back. Hence my suggestion that Obama mount a focused media campaign calling them out, correcting the record and setting the boundaries to knock the wind out of them and create more discord within their ranks.

The republicans also want to kill his momentum and set up media narratives about GOP strength and Obama weakness which could have the effect of influencing elite opinion and ultimately the dems in congress and the senate.

Also public opinion could flip 2 years from now and todays public approval for the stimulus will mean nothing. He needs major GOP sign on.

by cire32 2009-02-02 06:44AM | 0 recs
Nah

I was actually in the air as to whether I'd use Rush or someone else, like Rove or even W.  Interestingly enough I settled on Rush because it's been the mainstream media that's been connecting him to the Republican congress of late, not the left wingers.

I'm sure that Obama will do a media push if he needs to, probably using alternative media to bypass the MSM entirely, but it clearly hasn't reached that point yet.  Mark my words, if the bill gets through the Senate, you'll see a good number of House Reps signing on when it comes back to them.

by Dracomicron 2009-02-02 07:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Nah

We'll see.

by cire32 2009-02-02 07:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Bring Back the Permanent Campaign!

I don't agree. Obama has done more than most past Presidents to reach out to Repugs if they continue their "we can't support this" stance, then ultimately it will be the voters that decide.

If the stimulus package works and puts the economy on the right track, then Obama and the dems will get the credit - if not, they will take the fall. There is alot riding on it.

But - in terms of bipartisianship - Obama has certainly done a good job of attempting to bring them into the fold.

by nikkid 2009-02-02 05:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Bring Back the Permanent Campaign!

I absolutely agree that Obama has gone out of his way to be bi-partisan. No question. But:

A) He needs a large amount of republicans to get on board in congress and the senate for political cover if everything continues to go south despite the stimulus. The 2010 mid-terms could be brutal otherwise.

B) The strategy should be carrots and sticks and not just carrots. The republicans are spiting in his face and staring him down. What's his response other then more dinners and parties? He needs to start making it hurt for them. A focused media campaign correcting the record and knocking the republicans back a little needs to happen.

So far the momentum of this bill favors the republicans in terms of the psychology in Washington. It will eventual pass but not on the terms Obama wants. He needs a more robust and more multi-layered approach and that means mounting an actual campaign if he wants the support for this bill to meet his goals.

by cire32 2009-02-02 05:44AM | 0 recs
List your sticks you think Obama should use?

The remaining Repubs in the house are mostly in very safe red districts...

AND, lets be clear: This was a safe no vote for them, because the money is STILL going to flow to their districts.

The tougher no vote is for the Senators, who rep the whole state. But, even there, what is your stick to nail them with?

Besides, if I remember, Democrats SUCKED at the permanent campaign idea, Clinton gave to the Repubs and Bush steam-rolled over the Dems.

Part of the problem is, the Repub congress critters are WAY more likely to lemming up, and strictly vote part line.

The democrats, are, for better or worse, a much more divided and motly crew.

The blue dogs, for example. Obama is actually shifing a lot of this around (for example, removing the family planning section, and sending it up separetly later) to protect THEM from their red district voters...

Still, I would like an explanation of your version of the stick?

Personally, I think Obama IS doing the set-up for the stick, by making the Repubs look like obstructionist who ONLY want to get more tax cuts...

Let's see what the Senate does. If they go ahead and pare out some more, make it more shovel ready, and the Repubs STILL vote agianst it on masse, then we have a political message to sell:

We TRIED to reach the Republicans, but, they are only interested in stopping everything and letting YOU the American middle class crash and burn...

by WashStateBlue 2009-02-02 08:14AM | 0 recs
Re: List your sticks you think Obama should use?

Stick: Coordinated campaign attacking repubs for not supporting rebuilding children's school, hospitals etc... Destroying republicans credibility with mentions of Bush deficit spending bills. Bring GOP congressional members records on spending for Bush years to the media.

All of this supported with speeches and a full force of surrogates etc...things like that.

Right now, Obama and dems are pretty much just quiet.

by cire32 2009-02-02 03:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Bring Back the Permanent Campaign!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/02 /obama-white-house-losing_n_163201.html

This supports my argument.

by cire32 2009-02-02 03:31PM | 0 recs

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