Saturday, August 2, 2008

Plouffe (n.) -- Con artist, huckster

Barack Obama's incompetent campaign strategist, David Plouffe, has seen his candidate lose a 9-point lead in five days, yet nonsensically claims that it is the John McCain campaign that has suffered:

(Via Politico.) Plouffe suggests that a flurry of online donations represents a generalized reaction against Team Maverick's "attack." But as everyone in the loop knows -- hey, how do you think Ben Smith got this video, anyway? -- these donations were in response to an e-mail solicitation sent out Thursday night to supporters who had already signed up as Obama supporters.

In other words, liberal Democrats responded as expected to a clever appeal to their pre-programmed fear (which Team Obama has been fueling for more than a month) that their candidate would be targeted by the vaunted "Republican attack machine." Contrary to Plouffe's assertion, there was no massive influx of new supporters, only additional exploitation of existing supporters.

What Democrats need to realize is that Axelrod and Plouffe have organized a campaign that very much resembles a pyramid scheme. It's a multi-tiered marketing scam, with "Hope" and "Change" as the product. This was surprisingly effective in the Democratic primaries, where Obama was marketed to pre-sold customers, as it were.

Yet like any Ponzi scheme, Hope Inc. was inevitably due to reach a saturation point at which the failure to add new supporters resulted in collapse.

Democrats who supported Obama in the primaries did so because Axelrod and Plouffe convinced them that he had a magic formual for victory. Maintaining belief in that formula was crucial to the effort, since only an overwhelming electoral juggernaut -- an invincible winner -- could drive the kind of fundraising and volunteer activism needed to make their strategy work.

The primary campaign was about convincing Democrats that Obama had a better chance than Hillary to win in November. This is why I have been so skeptical about the ability of Axelrod and Plouffe to translate their successful primary strategy into a win in November. A general election is not a primary. A general election is about swaying independent voters, who are profoundly different from the type of hard-core partisans who walk through January snow to participate in a caucus in Iowa.

Maintaining an image of insuperability was what that European tour was about -- convincing the True Believers that their belief is valid. But while seeing Obama feted in Berlin excited hard-core progressives, it produced an entirely opposite effect in independent voters, who perceived it as a grandiose overreach by a candidate long on confidence and short on credibility.

Plouffe cannot admit this, nor can he admit what is apparent to any unbiased observer: McCain's attacks are effective, and they are effective because they are essentially true: Obama is an experienced lightweight, his energy plan is unserious, and he is an overhyped phenomenon comparable to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Plouffe's responds to this past week's meltdown in the characteristic fashion of a hustler: Tell the true believers that, contrary to all evidence, this apparent debacle is actually stunning triumph. You need only understand the meaning of "confidence game" to understand Plouffe's purpose.

Obama may yet win on Nov. 4, merely because of the overwhelming electoral vulnerability of the GOP in this cycle. However, if Obama falls behind and continues to look as incompetent as he has since his Landstuhl blunder, Democrats may be shocked at how quickly his former momentum rolls back down the hill in the manner of Wile E. Coyote on the receiving end of a Newtonian sight-gag.

Steve Schmidt's strategy of relentless aggression has captured the initiative in this campaign, and you can expect to see Team Maverick continue their attacks in the manner of U.S. Grant's famous 1864 declaration: "I intend to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer." The object is to put enough pressure on Obama to force his collapse.

This morning's Rasmussen poll shows a dead heat. Since July 8, McCain has gained 3 points in the Rasmussen daily tracking, while Obama has lost 2 points despite the media swoon during Obama's foreign tour. And this is, Plouffe says, is success. If Obama ever falls behind, I suppose they'll be exchanging high fives at Hope HQ.

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