David Plouffe Points to Events in November to Prove “Base” Is Happy in December

Picture 168David Plouffe fed Ari Melber a whole bunch of bullshit in this interview defending Obama’s health care reform capitulation. But I’m particularly amused by this aspect of his argument.

Rank and file Obama supporters still have faith in the health care strategy, Plouffe insists, a conclusion he reached by listening to the “base” supporters who donated time and money to Obama.

“I’ve been out on a book tour, I’ve seen a lot of people–the base I view are the people who gave money and volunteered in the campaign. Now, there are plenty of people who are commentators who did that too, and I thank them for that, but the heartbeat of the campaign and the Obama organization are the people out there I’ve seen the past few weeks in St Louis, in Kansas City, in Philadelphia,” he said. (The Nation interview was part of Plouffe’s tour for “The Audacity to Win.” Plouffe also highlighted that literally two million people have taken some volunteer action for health care since Obama’s inauguration.

“It’s easy to take potshots, but I’m very closely in contact with the people who make up the heartbeat of the ground level of Obama for America, who are still out there,” he said. “We’ve had a couple million people out there volunteering for health care, quietly in communities, helping maintain support. It’s different from a campaign; you’re not out there saying, ‘Register eight voters today.'” Later he elaborated, “Is it the same intensity as the campaign? Of course not… I quite frankly am thrilled that over two million people, which is a lot, have done something on health care, meaning: they’ve gone out and knocked on doors; they visited a congressional office; they helped organize a press conference. It’s happened in all 50 states, and we think it’s a small part of why health care will get done.”

So Plouffe refutes Markos’ argument that the party has “a lack of understanding of just how pissed the base is at this so-called reform,” by pointing to two things: the enthusiasm of the people he’s talked to while on book tour over “the past few weeks,” and the two million people who have been engaging in grassroots lobbying through Organizing for America.

As a threshold matter, Plouffe invokes book events that happened on November 20, November 19, and November 5 to support his claim that grassroots Obama supporters are not pissed about Obama’s capitulation to Joe Lieberman on December 14. But it’s worse than that. Plouffe hasn’t had a book event since December 10 (though he’s doing one tomorrow in Delaware, and I hear he takes feedback he gets at book events very seriously, if you happen to be in Delaware…). In other words, Plouffe is claiming that all the enthusiasm he saw on the road before Obama capitulated to Lieberman proves that the base is okay that Obama capitulated to Lieberman.

Then there’s the OFA claim. Plouffe says that the sheer number of Obama volunteers who have been fighting to support health care reform prove that the base still supports Obama’s approach to health care reform.

There’s a big problem with that. Though OFA did send out an activist blast yesterday, for much of the time these OFA volunteers were working their ass off for health care, the public option was part of the plan. In fact, here’s what the OFA site still says right now:

If you don’t have insurance the Obama plan offers a public health insurance option to provide the uninsured and those who can’t find affordable coverage with a real choice.

That is, one of the eighteen things Obama still promises to those two million volunteers working for him is that his plan will include a public option. Only, as of Monday, his plan definitely does not.

Now, as it happens, I spoke to the local OFA group on Tuesday. So I may actually have a better idea than Plouffe on what–using precisely the same measure he is using, though using data that actually post-dates Obama’s capitulation–the grassroots thinks about Obama’s capitulation. Most of all, I think, they’d like clearer information about what the plans really do (it might help, for example, if OFA actually updated the website to let activists know a principle they’ve been fighting for is no longer part of the plan). But mostly they were, at the least, dismayed that Joe Lieberman got to dictate the terms of this plan. And many of them were a hell of a lot more pissed off than that.

Plouffe points to the enthusiasm of two million Obama supporters who have been fighting for–among other things–a public option. Apparently, without bothering to check about how those two million activists feel yet, Plouffe claims they’re still supportive.

Plouffe may have a rude awakening about the base’s enthusiasm come tomorrow’s book event.

54 replies
  1. phred says:

    The administration and their chums seem to be suffering from a disturbingly severe case of denial. How could they have miscalculated so badly? Even given that, how can they pretend that nothing is wrong? They need to get out front on this and lead before it is too late. Repetitiously telling us that this P.O.S. is really a yummy Baby Ruth isn’t cutting it. I wonder if they really have been blind-sided by the level of rage that has sprung up. I wonder if they genuinely do not know what to do. If so, that’s not good. You would expect the leaders of the free world to have the good sense to have a plan b. It appears that they didn’t think ahead.

  2. allan says:

    Remember PUMA?
    If this cr*p gets passed in anything like its current form,
    it’ll be CDMA (Contributing to Democrats My A**).

  3. Becca says:

    Let’s take those bullet points in order. (1) Creates a new insurance marketplace, etc. competitive prices. Reality? No such marketplace until 2013 or 2014 at the soonest and not accessible to those with crappy employer-provided insurance. Prices will be whatever the insurance companies set them to be, which means “high and rising like a rocket”.

    (2) Provides new tax credits to help people buy insurance. Reality? Increased incentive for insurance companies to jack up their rates and reduce benefits even faster!

    (3) Provides small businesses tax credits and affordable options? Reality? Okay, the first point may be there but ‘affordable’? On what planet? There’s a reason small businesses aren’t providing insurance anymore — because the premiums remain unaffordable and are getting worse by the month.

    (4) Offers a public health insurance option. Reality? Forget it. Can’t have it. It’s gone baby gone.

    (5) Immediately offer a new ‘low cost’ high risk pool? Somebody forgot that a couple grand a month for a high deductible high copay policy isn’t ‘low cost’ — unless you’re a high elected official or bloated plutocrat.

    As phred remarked, this is outright denial we’re getting into here.

    • Mauimom says:

      As phred remarked, this is outright denial we’re getting into here.

      Pardon my ignorance, but it wasn’t clear to me who Plouffe was spouting this crap to, and why there wasn’t push-back, or follow-up questions along the lines you’ve provided.

      • Becca says:

        If you mouse over the link at the top of the story, apparently Plouffe was being interviewed for an article in The Nation.

        Why wasn’t there any pushback? Any question on the points I raised with respect to the “Obama Plan” bullet goals being utter vaporware? In part I think it’s because far too many journalists have forgotten the value and necessity of asking hard questions.

  4. bobschacht says:

    I was affiliated with the OFA group in Honolulu, so I know about the kinds of events Plouffe is talking about. These events are not about listening– at least not about the OFA organizers listening to the grass roots. They have an agenda, and the listening is to be done by the volunteers as they receive directions on what to do. The OFA organizer gives you the talking points, and the volunteers are expected to follow the script.

    Plouffe is fooling himself.

    Bob in AZ

    • Minnesotachuck says:

      Your account is precisely like my experience at the single OFA meeting I attended in my area in summer, 2008. ‘Twas billed as a “listening tour” but as you write; we the attendees were expected to do the listening during a packed agenda. I thought “WTF” to myself but said nothing. Now I realize I should have. As for keeping up with what’s going on at OFA these days, I’ll have to rely on Marcy or others. I unsubscribed about a week ago.

        • fatster says:

          Thanks so much. I did find it, finally. From the three examples you gave, I think I’ll go with “butt”. Seems appropriate.

          • Gitcheegumee says:

            I should have attached a snark tag.

            Plouffe exhibited a whole lot of fluff but not much stuff in pointing to November events as December realities.

      • skdadl says:

        Plouffe is an auld Québécois name made famous (here, anyway) by the very fine writer Roger Lemelin, author of The Town Below (set in Quebec City, which is class-divided by the heights of the Plains of Abraham) and of the novel that became “La famille Plouffe,” one of the first Canadian TV serials, broadcast through the fifties in both French and English.

        I see that your David grew up in Delaware, but my guess is that his family drifted down thataways, as so many Québécois did, through Vermont and Maine — the Kerouacs, eg, and Mrs Senator Leahy.

        Anglo Canucks would pronounce Plouffe as “ploof,” or a slightly softer version of that (but then the French of anglo Canucks is notoriously clunky). In French, the sound is somewhere between “tu” and “feu.” I’m ashamed that I don’t know how to do the phonetic symbols.

        It’s definitely not “pluff,” not in Canada, anyway.

        Les Plouffes on TV were an earthy working-class family struggling through the immediate postwar years in Quebec City. Everyone my age watched them, even though they were such an exotic species if you were a prairie kid (as I was). Given the prejudices and parochialism of working-class anglo-Canada, it was years before I grasped that Lemelin was a great writer and that series was a classic of TV’s golden age.

        Someone might tell your David Plouffe that his long-lost rellies in Quebec all have inexpensive universal single-payer healthcare (federally mandated) and the most brilliant system of kiddie daycare (that’s not federal — that’s their own clever system). I wouldn’t call it a socialist paradise exactly, but Quebeckers are very progressive.

        • fatster says:

          Oh, ms. skdadle, you never fail to provide wit, wisdom and a well-placed jab. David Plouffe [pronounced “ploof’ in this comment] is missing more than just a few things, including how to pronounce his own name. Just goes to show what happens when you abandon the land of poutine, move down here from up yonder and try to feed “a whole lot of bullshit” to an interviewer.

          Reminds me of the Earps who lived in a community in the Deep South with which I was familiar many decades ago. The ones who lived on farms pronounced their last name as ‘errp’. The ones who had abandoned the farms and moved to the small town pronounced their last name as ‘arrp’. What that accomplished was beyond my ken, but certainly not my sense of humor.

          • skdadl says:

            I can still sing the Wyatt Earp song (and they sang “errp”). I had such a crush on Hugh O’Brian — just looked up his wiki entry, and what a wonderful person he has turned out to be. In 2006 he got married for the first time at the age of at least 81 (the wiki has its years mixed up somehow). Wow — I would have married him when I was in grade 9.

  5. Mauimom says:

    “I’ve been out on a book tour, I’ve seen a lot of people–the base I view are the people who gave money and volunteered in the campaign.

    I hope Plouffe uses his extensive contacts with OFA to investigate and provide us with a report on how many of the responses to their most recent spam were some version of “fuck off.”

    And “don’t ever contact me again, your morons.”

    And “I worked my ass off for Obama and donated more than I could afford to, and I’m now so disappointed, I could spit.”

    Well, hell, David, just investigate and give us a report, together with sample responses.

  6. PJEvans says:

    Is he planning to provide us with time machines, so we can go back to November and tell him, while he’s on his book tour, how pissed we are about this piece-of-crap bill and his good buddy’s role in the associated kabuki?

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Plouffe is puffing hot air. He knows the base is pissed, in a way that spells disaster for his client: “I know, honey, that I promised not to fool around again, but honestly, it’s just the way I am. You’re forty and fat, so live with it. Where’s my supper?”

    The best he can hope for is that the base stays home. It won’t. It won’t vote for Republicans; they’re worse. It will find alternative candidates who don’t sell themselves out the minute the polls close.

    Mr. Obama could wise up and refresh his thirty year-old image of the plight facing the Americans who voted for him. He should, because the economic threat facing them – unlike the exaggerated threats sold to them by Bush – is existential. It is chronic, not acute. It is not something to recover from quickly when the economy turns around.

    The base is facing the permanent decline in their fortunes and, probably most importantly, their hopes for their children. When all Plouffe has to sell are see-through lies about how good Obama is being to them, it’s gonna get ugly.

  8. Arbusto says:

    Is it that Rahm Obama bent over with 100 grit petroleum jelly in order to get the best bill and most votes from the likes of Nelson, Snow, Collins, Landau, Lincoln, Lieberman, et al., or was it a drawn out bait and switch with the bill in the condition the WH really wanted. Br’er Rabbit would be proud.

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      I loved the Uncle Remus stories about Br’er Rabbit …

      “Don’t throw me in that Briar Patch”…..

  9. Leen says:

    When was that book tour?

    We know Plouffe can market and spin. He marketed Obama to all of us. Tough to do now with no single payer…no public option…no medicare buy in…along with mandates.

    Tough to spin.

    And with Dr. Dean, Wendell Potter, Katrina, Jane Hamsher, union leaders piling up in one corner against the “Insurance Profit Protection and Enhancement Act: Not looking good

  10. TarheelDem says:

    Yep, the frustration of the committed OFA volunteers is growing. They grumbled when they had not gotten their marching orders on healthcare by March. They pulled together in June and July and began organizing canvassing and phone banks. And even in spite of the absence of White House comment during August, they plugged on and can take some of the credit for the public option still being popular after the teabagger nonsense. But as the Senate process has been exposed, starting with the Gang of Six and now with the Gang of Ten, they are wondering where the transparency went. They might not reply to an email blast or complain to anyone coordinating OFA activities, but they certainly are grousing with their friends.

  11. maximus7 says:

    Happy? Here appears my answer.

    I just called these 2 organizations.

    Omaha Steaks 800 228 2778

    Nebraska Beef Council 800-421-5326

    and told a person in both organizations, one a beef seller and the other an organization that promotes Nebraska beef that

    I communicate with thousands of people on the net and that

    UNLESS their CEOs get Senator Ben Nelson to get all Anti abortion language out of the health care bill they can forget me doing business with them and also forget about me buying Nebraska bred beef at the Supermarket which I will make sure that the local Supermarket does not sell.

    Now it appears your turn to call them.

    Thank you.


    and spread the word please.

    Demand congress fix the prescription drug benefit

    go here http://bit.ly/drug_benefit

    Send a message to traitor Joe Lieberman demanding he help enact a strong single payer public option into law.


    Send this message wide and far. Thank you.

  12. 4jkb4ia says:

    @15: Axelrod did messaging.

    The answer about reducing costs was an answer to the only real policy question he got in the accompanying video. There are people much better qualified than David Plouffe to explain how the cost controls in this bill trickle down to the general population which is the obvious hard question.

    I am upset that Plouffe was in St. Louis and I didn’t even know, even if the thing was on a Friday.

    The email asking to give money that Markos was first upset about was December 8, which was a few days before Lieberman started making a stink, so I suppose you could have a pre-Lieberman post in mind when answering the question.

    Thanks, TarheelDem. I wrote in thereisnospoon’s diary that OFA ought to be the cavalry and any parallel movement should coordinate with them. It seems that the cavalry has failed to be mobilized as they could have been even if 2 million were involved at some point.

  13. 4jkb4ia says:

    But those OFA folks are right to be angry. To be naive again. the process should not work like this. I cannot be the only person who thought that Obama promised to get people to find common ground and the public interest and solve problems based on intelligence and thinking, and this is the OPPOSITE.

  14. Suzan says:

    Well, he felt he had to say “something” being the all-knowing pundit he is, etc., etc.

    And the base is soooooo stoopid that they prolly don’t know what their opinions are from one day to the next.

    He’s not a guy I pay much attention to.

    Thanks for the reporting.


  15. bmaz says:

    Let me get this straight. Irrespective of the fact the sampling in question was done long before the final rollover capitulation (even assuming it was not Obama’s wish all along, which I don’t think you can assume), David Plouffe thinks that the Obama ass lickers who are so dedicated they will not only pay real money to buy Plouffe’s stupid book, but are freaking insane enough to stand in line to get the damn thing signed, are a valid and relevant sampling cross section to support his claims?

    Hahahahahaha. Um, yeah, I don’t think I am gonna bite off on that…..

  16. fatster says:

    O/T, this could get interesting.

    “A House committee has launched an investigation into claims that US military contractors in Afghanistan are paying the Taliban to guarantee the safety of their transportation convoys, an allegation that could mean American taxpayers are indirectly funding the insurgency that has killed more than 900 American soldiers so far.”


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Tell me again why we can’t leave. We haven’t gone completely through Al Capone’s protection racket cookbook yet?

    • PJEvans says:

      If they’re surprised by that, they haven’t been paying attention. Or doing the job they’re well-paid to do. (Which isn’t a surprise to me, at this point.)

  17. Gitcheegumee says:


    Source: Truthout.org. Jason Leopold

    Documents Suggest Bush White House Failed to Search for Libby’s “Missing” Emails Subpoenaed in CIA Leak Probe

    Between late 2005 and January 2006, the Bush administration tried to recover “lost” emails from staffers who worked in the Office of the Vice President (OVP), an effort centered on a critical week – October 1 through October 6, 2003. That same week the Justice Department announced it was investigating the leak that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA operative.

    But one name was missing from the list of 70 individuals whose email accounts White House technicians searched in an attempt to recover and restore missing emails: I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

    The absence of Libby’s name on the list of individuals whose emails technicians were trying to recover from the Office of the Vice President raises questions as to whether the Bush administration fully cooperated with the criminal investigation into the leak probe, lead by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who had subpoenaed White House emails in January 2004.

    It was Fitzgerald’s investigation that led to revelations that the Bush administration had not been archiving emails in accordance with the Presidential Records Act.

    Read more: http://www.truthout.org/1217092

    • Leen says:

      Jason Leopold on it

      ‘CREW wrote to Fitzgerald two years ago suggesting that he reopen the investigation into the Plame leak in light of the email archival issues and the likelihood that he may not have obtained all the evidence related to White House officials’ role in the leak in a timely fashion. But Fitzgerald never responded to CREW’s letter.”

      Sounds like they should reopen an investigation. What would happen to a peasant if we withheld evidence? Our asses would be in prison. What a corrupt bunch ..Chene, Libby, Addington.

      And once again it was proven that the mucky mucks operate outside of the law> “Commutation”

  18. MsAnnaNOLA says:

    I am pissed. If this abomination passes. No support. He can sit and spin. This was my issue from the primary. This is what I was convincing everyone to vote for him for. For me and my friends with pre-existing conditions that have to plan our lives around how to get access to healthcare. To unleash all the entrepreneurs out there that are stuck in dead end jobs because it is the only way to get healthcare that is even vaguely affordable. So what does he offer us, reduced benefits and higher taxes. Are you fing kidding me. I am sick to my stomach that I voted for him and convinced others to do so.

    So far he has delivered nothing on anything that I actually care about except Sotomayor. That is it, and that aint much.

  19. Oval12345678akaJamesKSayre says:

    Candidate Obama spoke in soaring humanistic rhetoric; President Obama seems to have surrounded himself with the old corporate Clinton crowd; Unfortunately for the President, this is Dec. 2009 and we all have lived thru 8 years of Bush/GOOP hell with electronically stolen elections, wars, endless lies, criminal behaviors and we are not in a good mood to take more crap and BS from the powers that be…

    “A journey to Hell and back” is what we have all been through with this very lame attempt at “health care reform” by Pres. Obama, LLC. He twists, he turns, he shucks, he jives, he’s for public option, he doesn’t care if we have public option. On and on and on; this is the most pathetic political campaign in recent history; it even tops Hillary’s lame attempt back in 1993… Designed to fail, is probably the best way to describe it…

    Read Glenn Greenwald’s brilliant column at Salon and Common Dreams a couple of days ago. He explains how Pres. Obama has ended up with exactly what he originally wanted: a toothless bill that is a giant gift to private insurance corporations, that provides them with forty million new indentured servants
    to exploit…

    • skdadl says:

      Unfortunately for the President, this is Dec. 2009 and we all have lived thru 8 years of Bush/GOOP hell with electronically stolen elections, wars, endless lies, criminal behaviors and we are not in a good mood to take more crap and BS from the powers that be…

      That is a very important macro-historical/political point that I think most of our narrowly focused technocratic politicians don’t grasp until it’s too late. They’re like the generals: they’re fixed on the wrong things; they’re always fighting the last war; and they don’t respect the people enough to pay attention to social shifts.

      There have been famous electoral defeats of major figures who lost because something had gone on for too long and the public shifted before the politicians caught up. I think of Winston Churchill immediately after the war, eg — how could the Brits turf him out? And yet they did. Something similar is about to happen to Gordon Brown. It has already happened to our Liberals here (the “natural ruling party” … who are just falling over their own feet right now).

      Gordon Brown will pay Tony Blair’s debts, which is unfair enough. And Obama, if he doesn’t wake up soon, is going to be paying Bush and Cheney’s debts, which seems really wrong, and yet he seems to be asking for it.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Gordon Brown will pay Tony Blair’s debts, which is unfair enough. And Obama, if he doesn’t wake up soon, is going to be paying Bush and Cheney’s debts, which seems really wrong, and yet he seems to be asking for it.

        I think your analogy is a good one. Tony Blair drove his Labor Party far right, virtually abandoning its principles and base. He cut the knees out from under a defunct Conservative Party and co-opted its programs and its base. He formed a European coalition-style government without the coalition partner.

        It worked for a while, but just Karl Rove’s dreams of a thousand year-rule came crashing down, so have Blair’s and Labor’s. With such obvious corporatists in charge in the White House, and with an American middle class more desperate and drained than Blair had to contend with, the same may happen to Mr. Obama and his Democrats, but much sooner.

  20. Waccamaw says:

    Plouffe may have a rude awakening about the base’s enthusiasm come tomorrow’s book event.

    ew –

    If you get any additional information about the above wrt base’s reaction, would you please update here?

  21. thnelson says:

    I don’t think it’s too early to begin efforts to deny Obama the renomination in 2012. He not only does not deserve it, he has betrayed those who took his pledge of “Change You Can Believe In!” at face value.
    I’d rather a lukewarm progressive than one who promises hot action and then does a 180.
    Tom Nelson

  22. kisfiu says:

    This post implies that people are pissed off with Obama for failing to stand up to Lieberman. And I think that this is in fact what most (liberal) political junkies are pissed off about. The bill has not changed dramatically (the public option would have been neutered and available to a ridiculously small amount of people anyways) in the last month. What has changed is that Lieberman has given a big fu to liberals. While its certainly reasonable to debate Obama’s strategy in this whole thing – or his principles… it seems obvious to me that the real bad guys are Lieberman, Nelson, other blue dogs and all the Republicans.

    And it seems more effective strategically to focus on their faults and thus on replacing them. I am not saying that Obama shouldnt be criticized just that these things be kept somewhat in balance. Health care is basically being decided in the senate – not in the white house. And while Obama may have a lot of sway on Harry Reid, he obviously doesnt have so much on Lieberman whose vote happens to be crucial because Republicans are assholes.

    Also, Lieberman may be odious, but is he more of an asshole than Snowe or Collins who also seem to be negotiating in bad faith – no one seems to expect their votes at the end (unless perhaps their votes are not needed. Talk about being cowards!)

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      Uh, I think the MOST people who voted for Obama are pissed of after being pissed ON by Obama’s lack of backbone on MANY issues-not just the Lieberman interlude.

      You may or may not know this, but Lieberman was Obama’s mentor-and their ties go back a ways.

      And you can thank Rahm Emmanuel for these Blue Dogs, he helped create them.

  23. PJEvans says:

    Lieberman may be odious, but is he more of an asshole than Snowe or Collins

    They didn’t start their own parties so they could run in the general election after losing in the primary. UnHoly Joe did. That’s part of why he’s doing this: he’s trying to get even with FDL for backing Lamont and hounding Lieberman in the general (especially with the Kiss Float). Smarmy, whiny, vindictive SOB, bought and paid for by Israel and by the insurance companies.

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