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The Obama White House Calls in the Cavalry

The progressive groups that helped elect Obama president are now being asked to campaign for his agenda.

by
Ed Lasky

Bio

February 22, 2009 - 12:00 am
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Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency was trailblazing in its ability to tap into a network of activists around the nation to help propel him to victory. His campaign does not seem to have ended. He is again reactivating this network, but this time it is not to help him get elected. Instead, he is rounding up the usual suspects to help him advance his legislative program. The never-ending campaign has already begun.

Greg Sargent reports that a private White House cocktail reception was recently hosted by Barack and Michelle Obama for leaders of major progressive groups:

[The Obamas] signaled that their groups would play a key role in driving the big progressive changes at the heart of the White House’s legislative agenda, an attendee tells me.

The message was that these groups would be valuable as a kind of progressive outside “echo chamber,” as the attendee puts it.

The party — which was organized by top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett — signals that the White House is moving forward with efforts to build coordination with outside progressive groups in order to drive the White House’s message and beat back its foes. As I reported recently, Jarrett is at the center of those efforts.

Included on the guest list were: Labor leaders Jimmy Hoffa and Andy Stern, MoveOn.org’s Eli Pariser, Sierra Club’s Carl Pope, Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richardson, and Joe Solomonese of the Human Rights Campaign.

This should not come as a surprise.

Barack Obama began his career as a community organizer. Though he expressed frustration at what he was able to accomplish in this role and soon departed for Harvard Law School, he took with him an appreciation for what well-organized and motivated groups can do when they work together. This was revealed many times during the campaign. He was able to bring out volunteers en masse to work the neighborhoods for him. He certainly has brought community organizing into the modern age.

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