Bring Back the Permanent Campaign!
by cire32, Mon Feb 02, 2009 at 04:30:32 AM EST
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.