Edit: I scheduled this before I was on O’Reilly tonight, and for some reason, it did not save properly, so apologies for leaving you hanging, guys.
There’s a part of me that doesn’t blame these folks. Even I, great political cynic that I am, overestimated the power of President Obama’s army of organizers when he swept into office in 2008. I genuinely thought he had created the foundation for a brand new way to be president. Not because I actually thought he would change what he said he’d change about Washington (though I was hopeful he wouldn’t make things aggressively worse, oops), but because new technology and the ability of a truly (sometimes creepily) dedicated group of diehards to harness it really would change how Washington and the press corps perceived support for initiatives.
I pictured a first term in which the press corps, inclined to favor the well-liked Obama’s policies anyway, was encouraged by a constant drum beat of third-party grass-rootsish fanfare from an ever-energetic left flank. But that never really panned out. Even the most ardent supporter of liberal organizers would be hard-pressed to credit this organization with any major policy victories for Obama. It was most active during the push for Obamacare, where it mostly pushed for bland declarations of “support for reform” that didn’t really excite the base, which wanted a push for the public option.
What OFA, in its many forms, did end up being good at is electing Obama. But running for office is different than getting ideas into law, as the president has finally realized, explaining that plain fact to us on “Face the Nation” this weekend as if we had never thought of it before. Obama clearly prefers the former, and his organizers seem to have taken their cues from him.
The White House also put OFA under the aegis of the Democratic National Committee, thereby separating it from its animating purpose, which was never really politically realistic policies Obama might be able to get passed, but Obama himself. Meanwhile, after OFA had helped him get reelected, the president professed he would rely on neither hard-won compromise nor grassroots enthusiasm, but his “phone and pen.” After all, though he appreciates the support, his animating purpose is also Obama.
After 2014’s blow to the Obama agenda, OFA would like you to know they’re still organizing— to tell their neighbors that the Constitution totally allows the president to do whatever the heck he wants, I guess. A couple thoughts. Did they have to make that poor guy say, “Or acne?!” straight to camera? They mostly seem like nice, normal people. But then they go and declare themselves some kind of sanctified group of Davids who work harder than anyone else and are super-brave in the face of Goliath. They’re the “ones who refuse to be cynical about what we can get done,” and “the single greatest threat to the way the powerful interests in Washington do business.” Guys, you’re literally funded and, ahem, organized by the DNC— one of two of the most powerful political organizations in Washington. And, after six years, maybe it’s time to be a bit more cynical and look for a new way to do business other than just declaring Obama’s plans awesome. It has not been that effective.
And, then for the final act of any ill-fated Obama organizing effort: Obama telling you, faithful servant, “but it depends on you,” so that when he gets nothing done (or does things seemingly meant to sabotage your efforts), it will be you who is to blame. And, boy, is he gonna be disappointed in you.