Monday, January 26, 2009

Melding Obama’s Web to a YouTube Presidency

From the NY Times:

Lyle McIntosh gave everything he could to Barack Obama’s Iowa campaign. He helped oversee an army that knocked on doors, distributed fliers and held neighborhood meetings to rally support for Mr. Obama, all the while juggling the demands of his soybean and corn farm.

Asked last week if he and others like him were ready to go all-out again, this time to help President Obama push his White House agenda, Mr. McIntosh paused.

“It’s almost like a football season or a basketball season — you go as hard as you can and then you’ve got to take a breather between the seasons,” he said, noting he found it hard to go full-bore during the general election.

Mr. McIntosh’s uncertainty suggests just one of the many obstacles the White House faces as it tries to accomplish what aides say is one of their most important goals: transforming the YouTubing-Facebooking-texting-Twittering grass-roots organization that put Mr. Obama in the White House into an instrument of government. That is something that Mr. Obama, who began his career as a community organizer, told aides was a top priority, even before he was elected.

His aides — including his campaign manager — 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 White House also faces legal limitations in terms of what it can do. Perhaps most notably, it cannot use a 13-million-person e-mail list that Mr. Obama’s team developed because it was compiled for political purposes. That is an important reason Mr. Obama has decided to build a new organization within the Democratic Party, which does not have similar restrictions.

Still, after months of discussion, aides said the whole approach remained a work in progress, even after Friday, when the organizers e-mailed a link to a video to those 13 million people announcing the creation of Organizing for America. Mr. Obama’s aides know they have a huge resource to harness, but fundamental questions remain about how it will run and precisely what organizers are hoping to accomplish.

“This has obviously never been undertaken before,” David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager and one of the organizers of this effort, said in the video sent to supporters. “So it’s going to be a little trial and error.”

No comments:

Post a Comment