The Permanent Campaign

Chuck Todd was just on MSNBC discussing the political apparatus available to the Obama Administration and how that apparatus has come down hard on Dianne Feinstein on the health care reform vote. He points out that, since Senator Feinstein announced that they did not have the votes on the reform bill, MoveOn and other groups have launched attack ads on California television to push her back to the table. Nicole Wallace adds that this illustrates how Obama’s model for this issue is really the same as George Bush’s model: that of the permanent campaign.

The truth I think is much less simple than the pundits would like to make it seem. The left is certainly on the same page in it’s desire for health care reform; indeed the majority of our country seems to be ready for something new. But to assume that the Obama Administration has MoveOn to count as a tool of it’s policy making is probably going a bit far.

But there is no question that the Obama Campaign has shifted to the Obama Administration or that many of the priorities of the campaign have shifted to the priorities of the administration. In fact, they made no apologies immediately after the campaign, telling those of us who volunteered for him that they planned on keeping that network active. Certainly, the campaign continues. On this level, one can certainly compare the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration fairly, but it’s also worth contrasting as well.

There is a substantive difference between how the Bush Administration campaigned from the White House and how the Obama Administration is currently operating. Note the admitted caveat, “currently.” Primarily, the Bush Administration was concerned with winning, not necessarily winning anything specific. If there was a problem with political angling in the Bush Administration and in the Republican Party generally throughout the last eight years, it was that they squandered what was an impressive political machine on silly things like Terry Shiavo and the credit reform bill. The list goes on.

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration awarded campaign donors with plum jobs in the administration. Here we see the real difference between Obama and Bush: George Bush’s policy and procedure were meant to support his campaign, whereas Barack Obama’s campaign supports his policy and procedure.