His aides — including his campaign manager [David Plouffe] — have created a group, Organizing for America, to redirect the campaign machinery in the service of broad changes in health care and environmental and fiscal policy. They envision an army of supporters talking, sending e-mail and texting to friends and neighbors as they try to mold public opinion.The effort needs to be moved out of the White House in order to escape a legal restriction against using the 13-million-person e-mail list his campaign built up.
The organization will be housed in the Democratic National Committee, rather than at the White House. But the idea behind it — that the traditional ways of communicating with and motivating voters are giving way to new channels built around social networking — is also very evident in the White House’s media strategy....
"Organizing for America," how do you like that name? It resonates with the presidency's "community organizer" provenance, and it has a distinctly lefty vibe. I note the "for." Why not just "Organizing America"? (But I don't want to be organized!) So there are those other people, those 13 million, who are organizing. For us.
There is a clear interest in keeping the Internet-based political machinery that made Mr. Obama’s brand so iconic and that helped him raise record amounts. The new group’s initials, O.F.A., conveniently also apply to his Obama for America campaign.Anagram for "oaf," from the man who famously took the "oaf of office."
Still, sensitive to ruffling feathers even among fellow Democrats wary of Mr. Obama’s huge political support, Mr. Obama’s aides emphasized that the effort was not created to lobby directly or pressure members of Congress to support Mr. Obama’s programs.It's not a political campaign?
“This is not a political campaign,” Mr. Plouffe said. “This is not a ‘call or e-mail your member of Congress’ organization.”
Instead, Mr. Plouffe said the aim was to work through influential people in various communities as a way of building public opinion.So what is this distinction? The group won't be directly pressuring Congress. It will be stoking and massaging public opinion. Members of Congress can respond at their leisure.
Meanwhile, at the White House, there is a "new media" director, Macon Phillips. He's redesigned the White House website, which "will be continually updated to add presidential orders and blog postings that make the case for administration policy, often echoed by talking points that Organizing for America is sending to supporters."
In an interview, Mr. Phillips, 30, said the site would give the White House another way to reach the public without having to rely on the mainstream news media.This is the sort of thing George Bush should have done. Funny that Obama, who's got the media fervently on his side, is the one to figure it out.
We'll see how it works out. What was a campaign becomes a big propaganda machine. What proportion of the 13 million want to be on the receiving end of that? And as for new media, how many of us new media outlets will passively pass along the talking points? My idea of new media is that we take the raw material and do something with it. It needs to get out of the control of the one who's sent out the original message. You can distribute your propaganda, but you can't organize it. You can't organize us. The internet is self-organizing, and we will see how it organizes itself. It can't be according to the will of a President.