What’s Missing from the Obama Campaign’s Strategy Video

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Michael Scherer noticed four things in the Obama campaign’s new video about its strategy for getting the President reelected in 2012. Let me add one more: At no point in the six-minute video does campaign manager Jim Messina even hint at a reason why the president ought to be reelected in 2012. He wants Obama supporters to start talking to their friends, but he doesn’t give them any ideas about what to say. He refers several times to “the President” – not “the President, who saved us from a Great Depression and put us on the road to recovery,” or “the President, who is defending Medicare and scientific research from Republican marauders,” or even “the President, who ought to be reelected.”Just “the President.”

I know this is supposed to be a strategy video, empowering the grass-roots army by sharing the battle plans and letting the soldiers know what the generals are thinking. It worked great in 2008.  But in 2008, the army was already fired up and ready to go. Today, large swaths of Obama’s base feel let down by the president–his stimulus was too small, he didn’t fight hard enough for the public option, his Wall Street reforms were too weak, it took him too long to fix Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, he extended the Bush tax cuts, Guantanamo, Afghanistan, waah, waah, waah. Personally, I think most of these gripes are silly, but it’s not my job to mobilize a grass-roots army to go to war for the President’s reelection. And I suspect that at the very least, that army is going to want some reason to fight before it starts taking orders.

Messina is obviously a smart operative, and he gives off just the right dorky-friendly, I-love-data vibe for an Obama operation. The glasses are especially perfect. But he ends up sounding like a corporate manager urging his sales force to sell more soup, without bothering to remind them that it’s supposed to be mmm-mmm good.