Obama’s choice of campaign director does not bode well for the humans on the planet

(This post is used to update the LSW page, the Obama administration.)


The following information is taken from an Democracy Now interview with Ari Berman, contributing writer for The Nation magazine and an Investigative Journalism Fellow at the Nation Institute. He is author of Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape.

The occasion is Obama appointment of former White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina as his campaign manager. Berman has written an article in the Nation about Messina.

On Messina’s immediate background, Berman says:

“For a very long time, he worked for Max Baucus, the senator of Montana, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, who was one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate. After working for Baucus, he briefly joined the Obama campaign as the campaign’s chief of staff, then went to work for Rahm Emanuel in the White House, who was deputy chief of staff, the same position Karl Rove held for some time—the same position Josh Lyman held on The West Wing, for some cultural observers. And really, during that time, he was thought of as first Rahm’s enforcer. Then, when Rahm went to Chicago to become mayor, Messina really took on the role of Rahm.”

He adds

“And during that time, he was the top liaison to progressive groups on issues like healthcare, on issues like gay rights. And his tenure, from my reporting, was really marked by his clashes with those progressive activists. He was supposed to be working with them, but often was instead at odds with them. And that’s why Obama supporters that I talked to are worried about his elevation as campaign manager for 2012.”

Speaking of the little known Common Purpose project, Berman says:

“There was this group set up called the Common Purpose Project, which really was supposed to be the gathering where administration officials would brief progressive groups. Big progressive groups like MoveOn.org, labor unions, AFL-CIO, SEIU, Planned Parenthood, all the gamut of progressive groups in Washington, inside and outside of Washington, would be at these meetings. And there was supposed to be a back-and-forth.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And they’d meet every Tuesday?

ARI BERMAN: They’d meet every Tuesday evening at the Capitol Hilton in Washington. But what Messina did is he really tightly controlled the discussions, and it was very much a one-way mode of doing business, where he said, “This is the strategy. Go support it.” And what it was supposed to be, it was supposed to be a back-and-forth. And there was supposed to be outside mobilization by progressive groups on things like healthcare, on things like gay rights. That was the whole purpose of the Common Purpose Project.”


“But really what happened is Messina and the White House, Rahm and other people, demobilized these progressive groups, took them out of the equation on things like healthcare, didn’t want them talking about a public option, didn’t want them criticizing Max Baucus. And that had a very detrimental effect when the Tea Party exploded, and there was all this mobilization on the right and none on the progressive side.”

Berman says that the 2012 Obama campaign is focusing on big donors. The 2012 Obama campaign looks a lot like the Clinton 1996 and Bush 2000 and 2004 campaigns, meaning focus on big corporate donors and lock them in.

Read/listen to the interview and read his article.

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