Heads Up: Organizing for America Begins to Flex Its Muscles

By Al Giordano

You have to sift through a lot of "look at me" attention-seeking prose by Esquire writer Lisa Taddeo to get to the truly interesting parts inside her profile of Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. If you couldn't get through the whole thing, let me pluck out (invoking the doctrine of fair use, I'm extracting only 540 words from the 6,000+ word magazine article) the most interesting revelations:

-       Plouffe is another of the autodidacts (he dropped out of the University of Delaware) who got a big head start in life on those that dawdled in college.

-       He's become the go-to guy on the outside: "It was Plouffe (rhymes with bluff) who gathered the president's unprecedented thirteen-million-name contact list, which has grown into a fulsome pulsing beast, and it is Plouffe who now owns it and keeps it under lock and key. Plouffe sent those thirteen million people an e-mail in mid-November and they replied, Yes, I still want to be involved, and yes, David Plouffe, I'll have house parties when you tell me to. Here is who I am socioeconomically and socially."

-       Organizing for America is going to be a bigger deal than some suspect, and than others would like it to be: "The idea is a national operation, likely named Organizing for America, that will resemble Obama's grassroots operation in reach and love. It will be as finely tuned as the campaign behemoth and funded the same way - no money from third parties. If Obama has a policy initiative he wants to push, or a message he needs to disseminate, or a gaffe he wants to bat down, he will call David Plouffe and Plouffe will unleash the many-million-mouthed dog, just as he did all across America for these past two years... If you believe in Obama and in the need for change and for a new, streamlined, hyperlinked Democratic party, then this is a watershed idea. It is a mechanism that could truly morph the power structure in Washington - waking up the unused, overslept public, as Plouffe successfully did on the campaign, and making an end run around lobbyists and interest groups."

-       Plouffe understands the important difference between mere activism and its superior forerunner, organizing: "Plouffe insists that to focus too much on the netroots is to overlook the pure fieldwork, which was essential to winning. ‘You can't be too reliant on just technology in politics . . . knocking and phone calls is still the bread and butter.' He smiles. He likes the notion. It's how he started. ‘It'll be a long time before those new apps replace the old ones.'"

-       Plouffe hasn't forgot who brung him (and Obama to the White House): "'Do you realize that more than half those volunteers had never been involved in politics before?' David Plouffe is wide-eyed now, and leaning in. ‘More than half.'"

-       Governor Tim Kaine is a co-architect, with Plouffe, of Organizing for America: "Organizing for America, he says, was six weeks in the making. In that time he spoke daily with Tim Kaine. They studied how the Obama campaign machine functioned and read briefings on how it could be transformed into Obama's governing machine. Obama, he says, made clear that the mandate of Organizing for America was to push forward his agenda for change, not for reelection. ‘I can assure you it isn't that way with Obama. He sent that message out loud and clear, and I could not agree more strongly.' ...(OFA) will be an independent entity under the umbrella of the DNC, with a separate staff in Washington, its own structure and Web site, and field offices with technical staff and fieldworkers across the country.... "Most of what this entity will be doing is building grassroots support for issues and politics," says Plouffe. ‘Let's say there's an energy effort, an energy plan, that the president and some of Congress would like to get passed. People would get out there and talk to their neighbors and try to build support.' Petitions, canvassing, phone calls, house parties. David Plouffe will send out an e-mail or a video: America, we need your help. The state field offices will go into action."

As I finished reading the Esquire story, I got (along with 13 million of you) an email from the president. I'll paste its text at the jump. Meanwhile, I spy still more great community organizers joining Organizing for America's Facebook page.

For those not among the 13 million recipients, here's today's email from the President:

Al --

The economic crisis is growing more serious every day, and the time for action has come.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which will jumpstart our economy and put more than 3 million people back to work.

I hope to sign the recovery plan into law in the next few weeks. But I need your help to spread the word and build support.

It's not enough for this bill to simply pass Congress. Americans need to know how it will affect their lives -- they need to know that help is on the way and that this administration is investing in economic growth and stability.

Governor Tim Kaine has agreed to record a video outlining the recovery plan and answering questions about what it means for your community. You can submit your questions online and then invite your friends, family, and neighbors to watch the video with you at an Economic Recovery House Meeting.

Join thousands of people across the country by hosting or attending an Economic Recovery House Meeting this weekend.

The stakes are too high to allow partisan politics to get in the way.

That's why I've consulted with Republicans as well as Democrats to put together a plan that will address the crisis we face.

I've also taken steps to ensure an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability. Once it's passed, you will be able to see how every penny in this plan is being spent.

You can help restore confidence in our economy by making sure your friends, family, and neighbors understand how the recovery plan will impact your community.

Sign up to host or attend an Economic Recovery House Meeting and submit your question for the video now:


Our ability to come together as a nation in difficult times has never been more important.

I know I can rely on your spirit and resolve as we lead our country to recovery.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

P.S. -- If you can't host or attend an Economic Recovery House Meeting, you can still submit your questions for Governor Kaine and then share the video with your friends and family this weekend. Learn more here:


Like the 2007 Obama campaign, this operation is going to largely fly under radar as it builds, step by step, into something much bigger than most can currently imagine. I look forward to reporting - with your help - on each leg of its journey. And I don't mind at all that, once again, it seems that a big fat vacuum has been created by the media-blogger-punditry circles' general disinterest in the story of how organizing happens, instead continuing their penchant for circling in a pack around the mass media nose-ring jerks du jour.

Could it be they've surrendered the beat again to just a few of us? So soon? Again? Oh, goodie. This will be fun.

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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