Wednesday, August 17, 2011

OFA's Contempt For The Left: It's Not A Bug, It's A Feature

So the interwebs were all a-Twitter when this came over the transom today:

Obama Campaign Staffer Sends Out Email Bashing Paul Krugman And 'Firebagger Lefty Blogosphere'

Obama campaign's point person in New Mexico recently sent an email to supporters defending the president's position on the debt deal and bashing the Nobel Prize winning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and the "Firebagger Lefty blogosphere."

On the evening of Aug. 1, just after Congress passed legislation to raise the debt ceiling, Obama for America (OFA) New Mexico State Director Ray Sandoval sent an email to supporters with the subject line, "Please take 5 minutes to read this, Please."

"I know many of you have raised frustrations, but please, I implore you, please take 5 minutes and read the article below. It does a great job of explaining the Debt Ceiling deal," Sandoval wrote in bold text.

The rest of the email was a blog post taken from a blog called "The People's View," run by Spandan Chakrabarti. Chakrabarti writes that he has "been participating in online and offline liberal activism since 2003, when Gov. Howard Dean ran for president."

The blog post that Sandoval thought was important enough to share with others harshly condemns Krugman and progressive bloggers who have been critical of Obama. From the 1,825-word post:

Paul Krugman is a political rookie. At least he is when compared to President Obama. That's why he unleashed a screed as soon as word came about the debt ceiling compromise between President Obama and Congressional leaders - to, you know, avert an economic 9/11. Joining the ideologue spheres' pure, fanatic, indomitable hysteria, Krugman declares the deal a disaster - both political and economic - of course providing no evidence for the latter, which I find curious for this Nobel winning economist. He rides the coattails of the simplistic argument that spending cuts - any spending cuts - are bad for a fragile economy, ignoring wholeheartedly his own revious cheerleading for cutting, say, defense spending. But that was back in the day - all the way back in April of this year. [...]
No, the loudest screeching noise you hear coming from Krugman and the ideologue Left is, of course, Medicare. Oh, no, the President is agreeing to a Medicare trigger!!! Oh noes!!! Everybody freak out right now! But let's look at the deal again, shall we? [...]
Now let's get to the fun part: the triggers. The more than half-a-trillion in defense and security spending cut "trigger" for the Republicans will hardly earn a mention on the Firebagger Lefty blogosphere. Hell, it's a trigger supposedly for the Republicans, and of course, there's always It'sNotEnough-ism to cover it.
A few hours later, an Obama campaign spokesman, Katie Hogan, tried to put some distance between OFA and the staffer,  “The views expressed in this email do not represent the views of the campaign.”

Which is all very well and good, but here's the deal - whether it was Rahm Emanuel calling progressive organizations "fucking retarded" , Robert Gibbs castigating "the professional left"  or Obama himself, who lashed out at vocal critics who thought he gave too much away on the tax cut deal, saying "this is the public option all over again" - Mr. Sandoval's email represented exactly what the views of the campaign are.

Closer to home, I reported on this blog how an OFA staffer in Southern California posted a story on their Facebook wall comparing liberals critical of the Obama tax deal to Tea Party members. Minutes later, in an epic example of #organizerfail, the same OFA staffer puts out an "ask"  for volunteers to come out to California headquarters to phone bank.

Look, I know a number of great, dedicated OFA staffers, but the organization as a whole has degenerated from a powerful way for the grassroots to create real social change to a cheerleading, insular shell - it's only purpose to redirect that energy into Obama's next campaign. The staffer might not speak for OFA, but he certainly is reflecting the prevalent attitude coming from Washington.

In 2008, I took a six-month unpaid leave of absence to work on the Obama campaign.  In fact, I was a Regional Field Organizer in Southern California. I also maxed out my campaign donations - the first time I've ever done that in my life.

Not in 2012. Next year, I'll be turning my focus on retaking the House, keeping the Senate, and electing good Democrats in local races.

I highly recommend many of you do the same.


  1. Hi, Marta!

    David Atkins says you've "reached [your] breaking point" with the Obama administration and/or OFA.

    Does that mean that you won't vote for Obama's re-election, and that you'll instead push for a primary challenge and--in the event that a suitable progressive alternative isn't nominated--you'll vote for a third-party candidate? Or is it just that you have had your fill of the OFA organization itself?

    If you have in fact reached the point of breaking ties with Obama, I'd be happy to send you one of these with my compliments:

    I write this in earnest, because there's a lot of what I term "shallow end" dissent with Obama on the left, sternly worded disappointment that typically stops short of an action plan to see him replaced with an actual left/liberal/progressive.

    Please do advise as to where you stand on this.

  2. I will vote for Obama, and I have no interest in being involved in any sort of primary challenge.

    In fact, I would actively discourage you from taking this route. While I understand and appreciate your passion, it's just not possible to successfully primary President Obama. My concern is that the effort will take away from the real fight - taking back the House, keeping the Senate, and electing good candidates down-ballot.

  3. Marta, thanks for a clear statement of your intentions. That's rather refreshing these days.

    I no longer see the Democrats offering a meaningful alternative to the Republicans, based on the track record of the last few decades.

    I do have one quibble with your comment, the reference to my "passion."

    It's a diminishing (and commonplace) thing to suggest that people who disagree with Obama are governed by passion rather than reason or legitimate policy differences.

    I'm sure you didn't mean any harm by it, but it's an exceedingly familiar response from Democrats, who generally cannot accept that a rational, left-leaning person has lost faith in the donkey party and that one sees no virtue in Obama's re-election.

  4. Just to clarify, the word "passion" was not used in a negative context, although I've seen the word "emo-prog" floating around enough to understand how you might take it that way. I know it's common for some of President Obama's supporters to use that characterization to dismiss criticism as irrational or childish.

    I meant neither. Politics is a contact sport and can be an emotional roller-coaster. If you don't have passion for what you're doing, it's easy to get discouraged and burned out in no time.

  5. Funny that nobody bothered to try to understand Spandan's argument - which is now beginning to be recognized more generally as correct. The "left" was in despair because they did not understand the implications of the deal the President negotiated and when their analysis was rebutted, they focused on their feelings of being disrespected.

  6. Really? I'd be interested in seeing examples to back up this claim.