Why wait until January 2010? Why not start last year? Right, an unbroken circle can’t start, and campaign season can’t “begin.” Every second in America is campaign season.
President Obama and his officials deny he watches the polls or governs based on the next election. His health care plan, Israel/Palestine, and Afghanistan strategies coincide with election cycles by chance. Immigration, deemed a third rail, has fallen out of favor for no reason.
And David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager, is back in the circle because, you know, it felt like a good time. David Axelrod, senior White House adviser called the recent focus on Plouffe “overblown.”
Also, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs replied when asked about Plouffe, “He will help supplement an already good political staff in helping us watch the 2010 elections, the gubernatorial, the Senate and the House elections.”
Election season officially “starts,” like a smoldering fire that finally catches a house ablaze. Plouffe’s book tour and triumphant return was planned from the beginning, when he became Obama’s campaign manager in 2008.
"David Plouffe has been a regular adviser to the president throughout the course of the year,” gushed Valerie Jarrett, senior White House and part of the inner Chicago sanctum. “He ran a magnificent campaign. He's been off writing a book and on a book tour, and now that that's running to a close the president asked him to come back. The president has full support of his team, and that team will work closely with David Plouffe. He's value added, and we're delighted to have him back.”
The White House has a new word too. Axelrod, when not busy downplaying Plouffe’s return, explained, "David is value added, we love him and... we are happy to have his talents back with us on a more regular basis.”
Plouffe’s effect has already been felt. A collaborative message with White House officials and the Democratic National Committee, essentially his message, urges, “no retreat in the face of polling that shows opposition to the president's push to overhaul health care and discontent with his economic efforts.”
"Instead of fearing what may happen, let's prove that we have more than just the brains to govern—that we have the guts to govern. Let's fight like hell," Mr. Plouffe wrote in the Washington Post on Sunday, more war cry than op-ed.
The same day Obama spoke in a similar vein, rally the troops on jobs and health care. The media is reporting a confrontational State of the Union address on Wednesday. What does all this mean for US foreign policy?
"The president has always gotten the message," Axelrod said. "The message is, we need to grow this economy in a way that allows hardworking people who are meeting their responsibilities to get ahead instead of falling behind."
Means foreign policy is back on the chopping block.
We were anticipating one of two State of the Union speeches. One would rouse the nation for war before he jets off to London’s Afghan conference. The other would gloss over foreign policy like it didn’t exist, playing right to Afghanistan’s 5% of national importance.
Sounds like Obama’s preparing the silent treatment.
Obama won’t place less attention on foreign policy - he’ll try to get away with more while talking about it less. This is where Axelrod and Plouffe, best buddies, really shine through. “It’s the economy stupid” - forget failed airport security, forget Israel and Afghanistan and China.
“We need to make our case on the economy and jobs,” Plouffe writes and points out in multiple cases. “and yes, we can remind voters where Republican policies led us - and if we do, without apology and with force, it will have impact.”
The word Afghanistan isn’t found in his article.
The American people are smart enough, and domestic policy complex enough, that foreign policy cannot be justified as outside the realm of the common citizen. Axelrod and Plouffe are keeping us few in the dark so Obama can a smoother political campaign.
A never-ending political campaign naturally trends towards disaster in foreign policy, which demands long-term decisions. We can clearly observe Obama trying to smash the Israel-Palestinian peace process into a two or three year box, Afghanistan into an 18-month frame, and not talk about it.
The official return of Plouffe doesn’t seem to add much value to Obama’s foreign policy.