Feeds:
Inlägg
Kommentarer

Posts Tagged ‘David Plouffe’

USA | Det var vicepresident Joe Biden som tvingade Barack Obama förklara sin syn på samkönade äktenskap.

The New York Times Magazine April 20 2014

Biden hade nämligen i en intervju förklarat sig vara för samkönade äktenskap innan presidenten officiellt tagit ställning.

”I think you may have just gotten in front of the president on gay marriage”, som Bidens communications direcctor uttryckte det efter intervjun.

När Obama väl bestämt sig ville Vita huset att presidenten skulle förklara sin syn i en intervju med den kvinnlige journalisten Robin Roberts på ”Good Morning America”. Man gillade nämligen hennes ”conversational style”.

Under intervjun fick Obama möjlighet att förklara att han förmodligen (“probably”) skulle säga ja till samkönade äktenskap innan valet. Biden hade bara ”got out a little bit over his skis”.

Det är berättelse om alla Vita husets strategiska överväganden som Jo Becker skriver om i en artikel i The New York Times Magazine.

Despite the president’s stated opposition, even his top advisers didn’t believe that he truly opposed allowing gay couples to marry. “He has never been comfortable with his position,” David Axelrod, then one of his closest aides, told me.

Indeed, long before Obama publicly stated that he was against same-sex marriage, he was on the record supporting it. As an Illinois State Senate candidate from Chicago’s liberal Hyde Park enclave, Obama signed a questionnaire in 1996 saying, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” But as his ambitions grew, and with them the need to appeal to a more politically diverse electorate, his position shifted.

In the course of an unsuccessful run for a House seat in 2000, he said he was “undecided” on the question. By the time he campaigned for the presidency, he had staked out an even safer political position: Citing his Christian faith, he said he believed marriage to be the sacred union of a man and a woman.

The assumption going into the 2012 campaign was that there was little to be gained politically from the president’s coming down firmly in favor of same-sex marriage. In particular, his political advisers were worried that his endorsement could splinter the coalition needed to win a second term, depressing turnout among socially conservative African-Americans, Latinos and white working-class Catholics in battleground states.

But by November 2011, it was becoming increasingly clear that continuing to sidestep the issue came with its own set of costs. The campaign’s internal polling revealed that the issue was a touchstone for likely Obama voters under 30. The campaign needed those voters to turn out in the record numbers they had four years earlier, and the biggest impediment was Obama’s refusal to say he favored allowing gay couples to wed.

“We understood that this would be galvanizing to some voters and be difficult with other voters,” said Jim Messina, the manager of Obama’s 2012 campaign.

Caught between countervailing political forces, Obama called his top aides together and said that if asked again for his position, he both wanted and needed to drop the pretense and tell people where he really stood.

“The politics of authenticity — not just the politics, but his own sense of authenticity — required that he finally step forward,” Axelrod said. “And the president understood that.”

But if he was really contemplating an endorsement of same-sex marriage, his advisers urged him to do it in a manner that caused minimal political damage. David Plouffe, a mastermind of the 2008 victory and a senior adviser to the president, reached out to Ken Mehlman for advice. The previous year, Mehlman, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who engineered President George W. Bush’s re-election, came out as gay […] Mehlman had already met with Obama over lunch at the White House and told him that people voted for him in 2008 because they viewed him as an idealist who would put politics aside and do what was right. Endorsing same-sex marriage would remind voters that he was still that man. “The notion that politically this is going to kill you — I don’t buy it,” Mehlman recalled saying.

He told Plouffe that voters were far more likely to be supportive once they understood that gay couples wanted to marry for the same reason straight people did: It was a matter of love and commitment. Polling indicated that voters would best respond if the issue was framed around shared American values: the country’s fundamental promise of equality; voters’ antipathy toward government intrusion into their private lives; and the religious principle of treating others the way one would like to be treated.

Mehlman surveyed 5,000 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and found that a majority supported some form of legal recognition of gay relationships. Generally, marriage was not a top priority for most Republicans, meaning that a presidential endorsement was unlikely to motivate the G.O.P. base or attract the kind of full-throated Republican criticism it might have in years past.

On Nov. 10, 2011, Mehlman sent Plouffe an email suggesting that the president announce his support for same-sex marriage in a TV interview with a female host. He also laid out specific language for Obama to use. Explain that this was a family decision and not a political one, he advised: “Michelle and I have been having a similar conversation in our family that lots of American families have been having on marriage equality.I fully understand that some will agree, while others will disagree, with where our family has come down on this.” Mehlman advised Obama to talk about his daughters — “as Michelle and I have been thinking through what we teach Sasha and Malia about America’s greatness” — and about religious liberty and fairness to all. “When you’re president, you’re president of all Americans. And all includes gays and lesbians — men and women who are serving across this country — firefighters, doctors, teachers, courageous soldiers who serve and protect the rest of us.”

Och så skulle Obama också komma att sälja in idén till den amerikanska allmänheten efter många överväganden.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine, 20 april 2014.

Read Full Post »

USA | Kommer hon eller kommer hon inte? Frågan ställs i nästan alla artiklar om Hillary Clinton.

The New York Times Magazine - January 26, 2014

Frågan gäller naturligtvis om hon kommer att ställa upp och försöka bli sitt partis presidentkandidat.

Att Clinton har en formidabel kampanjmaskin i ryggen om hon väljer att ställa upp i presidentvalet står utom allt tvivel.

Och till skillnad från många andra som går i samma tankar verkar Clinton ha fler allierade än vad hon rimligtvis kan behöva.

Amy Chozick i The New York Times Magazine kallar det för ”Planet Hillary”.

Unlike Barack Obama, who will leave the White House with more or less the same handful of friends he came in with, the Clintons occupy their own unique and formidable and often exhausting place in American politics. Over the decades, they’ve operated like an Arkansas tumbleweed, collecting friends and devotees from Bill Clinton’s kindergarten class to Yale Law School to Little Rock to the White House to the Senate and beyond.

[…]

This may represent Hillary Clinton’s biggest challenge for a hypothetical 2016 campaign. How can Clinton, who is 66, make American voters think about something other than her fraught personal and political past? How can she present herself as someone hungry to serve rather than as someone entitled to office? It starts, perhaps, by figuring out how to deal with many of those characters assembled along the way. “I love Barbra Streisand,” says Donna Brazile, the Democratic strategist who worked on both of Bill Clinton’s campaigns, “but Beyoncé is what’s happening now. I love Peter, Paul and Mary, but she needs to be Justin Timberlake. She can’t afford to kick people out, but she can afford to let new people come in. I realize that’s uncomfortable.” Put another way, the members of America’s most dysfunctional extended political family are about to meet a lot of young new operatives who don’t work in the same way. The Clintons may have come to power when an offensive election strategy meant digging up files of opposition research, but presidential politics are increasingly the province of number-crunching quants and code-breaking hackers. “The challenge is to create ways for people to help but also to figure out who the next generation is,” says Steve Elmendorf, deputy campaign manager on John Kerry’s 2004 presidential run. “Even David Plouffe is a generation removed. Who is the 32-year-old version of David?”

It’s an organizational conundrum that even members of Hillary Clinton’s innermost circle already concede.

[…]

For all the pieces now falling into place, the staff members new and old looking for a seat at the table, the super PACs looking to take credit and the speeches to Wall Street executives (at one session with a hedge fund in 2013, Clinton conceded that any hypothetical candidate would have to decide “toward the middle of next year”) — for all of the inevitable inevitability, perhaps the most important thing Hillary Clinton has to do is not appear like a big-footing Goliath who is finally getting her due. Six years ago, Iowans rejected Clinton, in part, because she seemed too entitled. I remember talking to caucus-goers who were turned off by the “I’m in to win” video that kicked off her candidacy and others who cringed at the loud landing of the Hill-a-Copter, which cost several thousand dollars a day in a state where voters prefer their candidates in Greyhounds.

When I asked David Axelrod what he thought Clinton had to do to win in 2016, he referred to the change she underwent during the last campaign. “She stumbled in 2007, when she was encased in a presumption of inevitability,” Axelrod said. “And she was a very good candidate in 2008 after she got knocked back. Instead of a battleship, she became a speedboat, and she got down on the ground and really, I thought, really connected to the middle-class voters and people who were struggling. People who were struggling connected with her when she looked like she was struggling.”

In her final months as secretary of state in the summer of 2012, when her approval ratings and press coverage were at all-time highs, I asked Bill Clinton what he thought of his wife’s transformed image. Over coffee at the Hilton in Nicosia, Cyprus, he told me the story of having just finished working on the McGovern campaign, his official, and intoxicating, introduction into presidential politics. He said he told Hillary he’d met some of the most prominent people of their generation, and she was by far the most gifted. “You should be in public life,” he told her back then. “She said: ‘Look at how hard-hitting I am. Nobody will ever vote for me for anything.’ ” The former president also gave some thought to her current image. “I think the country sees her the way those of us who know her see her.”

Clinton seemed to be implying that Hillary was gifted and driven and committed to public service and also was someone who genuinely liked to knock back beers in Cartagena and hit the dance floor in Pretoria. And it was sweet to hear the former president talk about his wife this way. But it also seemed like an exercise in magical thinking, as if the intervening decades of public life — with all the attendant drama and political missteps and immense power accrued and wielded — hadn’t complicated that vision of her. Hillary Clinton’s truest challenge, it would seem, is not to make the country glimpse who she was 40 years ago; it’s to recognize that for all the layers that have been added to the onion, there’s still something at the center that’s aching for the rest to be peeled away.

Läs mer: “How Our Hillary Clinton Cover Came About” av Arem Duplessis.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 26 januari 2014.

Read Full Post »

STRATEGI | Mitt Romney såg sin chans att vinna presidentvalet efter att ha besegrat Barack Obama i den första tv-sända val debatten 2012.

New York 11 nov 2013

Teamet som ansvarade för att förbereda president Barack Obama inför de tre inplanerade debatterna började känna oro. Det var en oro de inte var ensamma om.

Även den i vanliga fall så självsäkre Obama började tveka om han klarade av den här typen av framträdanden.

“I just don’t know if I can do this”, var Obamas överraskande kommentar vid ett tillfälle. Det avslöjas i den nyutkomna boken Double Down: Game Change 2012 av John Heilemann och Mark Halperin.

Obama hade haft en konstant ledning i opinionsmättningarna under hela valrörelsen. Men det var också en högst marginell ledning.

Det fanns därför ingen garanti att för att Romney inte skulle ta ledningen och vända valrörelsen till sin egen fördel om presidenten misslyckades även i nästkommande duell.

Även presidenten insåg att något måste göras.

 “These are not debates,” Obama observed to Plouffe. “These are gladiatorial enterprises.”

The first lady worried about her Maximus and his return to the Colosseum. In truth, she had fretted over the debates even before Denver. In July, around the time her husband’s prep started, she met with Plouffe and expressed firm opinions. That Barack had to speak from the gut, in language that regular folks could understand. Had to avoid treating the debates like policy seminars. Had to keep his head out of the clouds.

[…]

The president was presented with a piece of overarching advice and a memo, both of which would have been inconceivable before Denver. The advice was […] “the Six A’s”:

Advocate (don’t explain)
Audience
Animated
Attacks
Answers with principles and values
Allow yourself to take advantage of openings

[…]

Klain turned Obama’s prep regime upside down: new strategy, new tactics, new structure. In Williamsburg, there would be an intense concentration on performance, including speeding up Obama’s ponderous delivery. There would be less policy Q&A and more rehearsal of set pieces and lines that popped. Less emphasis on programmatic peas and spinach, more on anecdote and empathy. Contrary to Clinton’s advice, there would be plenty of punching to go along with the counterpunching.

[…]

“We’re here, Mr. President,” Klain began, “because we need to have a serious conversation about why this isn’t working and the fundamental transformation we need to achieve today to avoid a very bad result tomorrow night.” We’re not going to get there by continuing to grind away and marginally improve, Klain went on. This is not about changing the words in your debate book, because the difference between the answers that work and the answers that don’t work is just 15 or 20 percent. This is about style, engagement, speed, presentation, attitude. Candidly, we need to figure out why you’re not rising to and meeting the challenge—why you’re not really doing this, why you’re doing … something else.

Obama didn’t flinch. “Guys, I’m struggling,” he said somberly. “Last night wasn’t good, and I know that. Here’s why I think I’m having trouble. I’m having a hard time squaring up what I know I need to do, what you guys are telling me I need to do, with where my mind takes me, which is: I’m a lawyer, and I want to argue things out. I want to peel back layers.”

[…]

“When I get a question,” he said, “I go right to the logical.” You ask me a question about health care. There’s a problem, and there’s a response. Here’s what my opponent might say about it, so I’m going to counteract that. Okay, we’re gonna talk about immigration. Here’s what I’d like to say—but I can’t say that. Think about what that means. I know what I want to say, I know where my mind takes me, but I have to tell myself, No, no, don’t do that—do this other thing. It’s against my instincts just to perform. It’s easy for me to slip back into what I know, which is basically to dissect arguments. I think when I talk. It can be halting. I start slow. It’s hard for me to just go into my answer. I’m having to teach my brain to function differently. I’m left-handed; this is like you’re asking me to start writing right-handed.

Throughout the campaign, Obama had been criticized for the thin gruel of his second-term agenda. Now he acknowledged that it bothered him, too, and posed a challenge for the debates.

You keep telling me I can’t spend too much time defending my record, and that I should talk about my plans, he said. But my plans aren’t anything like the plans I ran on in 2008. I had a universal-health-care plan then. Now I’ve got … what? A manufacturing plan? What am I gonna do on education? What am I gonna do on energy? There’s not much there.

“I can’t tell you that ‘Okay, I woke up today, I knew I needed to do better, and I’ll do better,’ ” Obama said. “I am wired in a different way than this event requires.”

Obama paused.

“I just don’t know if I can do this,” he said.

Obama’s advisers sat silently at first, absorbing the extraordinary moment playing out in front of them. In October of an election year, on the eve of a pivotal debate, the president wasn’t talking about tactics or strategy, about this line or that zinger. He was talking about personal contradictions and ambivalences, about his discomfort with the campaign he was running, about his unease with the requirements of politics writ large, about matters that were fundamental, even existential. We are in uncharted territory here, thought Klain.

[…]

The full team reconvened in Obama’s hold room. Klain ran through his memo of the previous night and explained to the president the new  new format for his prep: For the rest of the day until his final mock, they were going to drill him incessantly on the ten or so topics they expected to come up in the debate, compelling him to repeat his bullet points over and over again. Klain also presented Obama with his debate-on-a-page:

MUST REMEMBER

1. (Your) Speed Kills (Romney)

2. Upbeat and Positive in Tone

3. Passion for People and Plans

4. OTR [Off the Record] Mind-set—Have Fun

5. Strong Sentences to Start and End

6. Engage the Audience

7. Don’t Chase Rabbits

Resten är vad man säger historia. Obama vann de två nästkommande valdebatterna och behöll därmed ledningen valrörelsen igenom.

Heilemanns och Halperins nya bok Double Down: Game Change 2012 ger en intressant bild av presidenten och alla turerna under valkampanjen.

Här får man följa bl.a. Obamas kampanjteam som bestod av David Axelrod, huvudansvarig för att upprätthålla budskapsdisciplin; David Plouffe, valstrateg och rådgivare i Vita huset; Anita Dunn, tidigare Vita husets communications director; Joel Benenson, tidigare medarbetare hos Mario Cuomo; Jon Favreau, Obamas talskrive samt Ron Klain, ansvarig för Obamas debatträning.

Läs mer: Ovanstående bearbetning är från ett utdrag från boken som publicerats i tidskriften New York.

Tidskriftsomslag: New York, 11 november 2012.

Read Full Post »

USA | Tidskriften Time utsåg påven till ”Person of the Year” 2013. På femte plats kom republikanen Ted Cruz, Tea Party-rörelsens darling.

.Time 23 december 2013Time 23 december 2013.

David von Drehle skrev bl.a. följande om den ideologiskt motiverade senatorn som alla tror vill bli sitt partis presidentkandidat:

[Ted] Cruz—like his fellow Tea Party freshmen Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida—appears to be eyeing a path blazed by his nemesis, President Obama, in which the Senate is just a pit stop in a grander race. Though Cruz disagrees with nearly everything the President believes in, he appreciates Obama as a political tactician. “I respect President Obama as a man of deep principles, who is clearly willing to pay a steep political price for those ­principles—as he is doing with Obama­care,” Cruz said solemnly as the December sun slanted through his office windows in a downtown Houston skyscraper. “I also believe those principles are wrong and harmful for the country.”

When it comes to tactics, however, Obama is “absolutely” a role model, Cruz said. In his Senate race against an overwhelming favorite, Cruz followed the battle plan laid out by Obama’s 2008 upset of Hillary Clinton. He even required his top staff members to study the campaign memoir written by Obama strategist David Plouffe.

But Cruz demurred when asked if he intends, like Obama, to skedaddle from the Senate at the first possible opportunity. He was happy to talk about the sort of candidate the Republicans should nominate in 2016. “Look back over the last 40 years. Every time Republicans nominated a candidate who ran as a strong conservative, we’ve won. Every time we ran as moderate, Establishment Republicans, we lost.”

[…]

If conservative theorists could build a cyborg in a lab vacuum-sealed against the slightest contamination by heterodox ideas, the result would be Rafael Edward Cruz. I say that because it is very nearly Cruz’s life story.

The lab was called the Free Enterprise Education Center. It was the creation of Rolland Storey, a wealthy Texas conservative who sought to identify promising young minds and mold them in an atmosphere of foundational conservative texts. Storey’s acolytes read Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises and Frédéric Bastiat. They memorized long passages of the Constitution and toured Rotary and Kiwanis luncheons dazzling audiences by reciting entire sections verbatim. They were like Spartans of the conservative mind, and Cruz was their Leonidas—winner of the annual speech contest four years in a row. (The topic was always freedom.)

[…]

George Will, the dean of conservative columnists, sized up Cruz and pronounced his background “as good as it gets.”

Democrats may harbor similar feelings, for they’ve made Cruz a favorite target, comparing him to the run-amok Senator Joseph McCarthy of communist witch-hunting fame. […] But Cruz is no McCarthy, who melted away in an alcoholic haze. No: Cruz is a more formidable foe, one built to last. He knows the difference between risk and recklessness, and his drink of choice is Dr Pepper.

Bild: Uppslag i Time, 23 december 2013.

Read Full Post »

DE AMERIKANSKA väljarna kommer inför valet 2012 inte att låta sig påverkas av arbetslöshetssiffrorna.

Det var David Plouffe, president Barack Obamas främste politiske rådgivare och tidigare campaign manager, som kom med denna förutsägelse samtidigt som arbetslösheten kröp upp till 9,2 %.

“The average American does not view the economy through the prism of GDP or unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers,” enligt Plouffe. “People won’t vote based on the unemployment rate, they’re going to vote based on: ‘How do I feel about my own situation? Do I believe the president makes decisions based on me and my family?’”

Men ingen president – utom Ronald Reagan – har efter andra världskriget lyckats bli omvald om arbetslösheten har legat över sex procent.

“Their decision next year will be based upon two things,” fortsatte Plouffe. “How do I feel about things right now and then, ultimately, campaigns are always much more about the future and who do I think has got the best idea, the best vision for where to take the country?”

Om David Plouffes uttalande är insiktsfullt eller bara ett bra exempel på spin lär vi få veta först på valdagen. 

Men vad vi redan nu kan vara säkra på är att de republikanska presidentkandidaterna kommer att använda sig av citatet för att visa på hur avskärmad Obama och hans administrationen har blivit från genomsnittsamerikanens vardag.

Read Full Post »

POLITIK: Vem är Washingtons mest tongivande journalist? Enligt reportern Mark Leibovich på The New York Times är svaret Mike Allen.

”Before he goes to sleep, between 11 and midnight, Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, typically checks in by e-mail with the same reporter: Mike Allen of Politico, who is also the first reporter Pfeiffer corresponds with after he wakes up at 4:20.”

Allens nyhetsbrev PlaybookPolitico verkar läsas av alla i maktens korridorer i Washington, inklusive i Vita huset.

Allen’s e-mail tipsheet, Playbook, has become the principal early-morning document for an elite set of political and news-media thrivers and strivers. Playbook is an insider’s hodgepodge of predawn news, talking-point previews, scooplets, birthday greetings to people you’ve never heard of, random sightings (“spotted”) around town and inside jokes. (…)

Cable bookers, reporters and editors read Playbook obsessively, and it’s easy to pinpoint exactly how an item can spark copycat coverage that can drive a story. Items become segment pieces on “Morning Joe,” the MSNBC program, where there are 10 Politico Playbook segments each week, more than half of them featuring Allen. This incites other cable hits, many featuring Politico reporters, who collectively appear on television about 125 times a week. There are subsequent links to Politico stories on The Drudge Report, The Huffington Post and other Web aggregators that newspaper assigning editors and network news producers check regularly. “Washington narratives and impressions are no longer shaped by the grand pronouncements of big news organizations,” said Allen, a former reporter for three of them — The Washington Post, The New York Times and Time magazine. “The smartest people in politics give us the kindling, and we light the fire.” (…)

Nowhere is Washington’s ambivalence over Politico more evident than in the White House. The Obama and Politico enterprises have had parallel ascendancies to an extent: they fashioned themselves as tech-savvy upstarts bent on changing the established order — of politics (Obama) and of how it is covered (Politico). They started around the same time, early 2007, and their clashing agendas were apparent early. On the day that Politico published its first print edition, Barack Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, walked into the campaign’s offices and slammed a copy of the new publication on Dan Pfeiffer’s keyboard. “This,” Plouffe declared, “is going to be a problem.”

Politico today remains a White House shorthand for everything the administration claims to dislike about Washington — Beltway myopia, politics as daily sport. Yet most of the president’s top aides are as steeped in this culture as anyone else — and work hard to manipulate it. “What’s notable about this administration is how ostentatiously its people proclaim to be uninterested in things they are plainly interested in,” [John F.] Harris, Politico’s editor in chief, told me in an e-mail message.

That Politico has been so vilified inside the White House is itself a sign of its entry into “the bloodstream” (another Politico phrase). It is, White House officials say, an indictment of the “Washington mentality” that the city is sustaining Politico and letting it “drive the conversation” to the extent it does. (…)

Allen sends out Playbook using Microsoft Outlook to a private mailing list of 3,000. A few minutes later, an automatic blast goes out to another 25,000 readers who signed up to receive it. An additional 3,000 or so enter Playbook from Politico.com, which adds up to a rough universe of 30,000 interested drivers, passengers and eavesdroppers to the conversation.

Read Full Post »