Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Obama for America's Aborted Fiscal Cliff Strategy

    Last Thursday, December 13th, as John Boehner was headed to the White House for a face to face meeting with President Obama, the Obama for America team was busy preparing for an evening conference call.  Sara El-Amine, the "GOTV [Get Out The Vote] Director in VA for last 2 mo. Fmr OFA Natl. Training Director" according to her Twitter profile, tweeted the following:

    A short time later, she followed up with this:

    This message was retweeted by the Deputy National GOTV Director, Obama for America, Geoff Berman later that evening.

    At 7:42 PM, El-Amine began a series of tweets recapping the phone call, beginning with this:

    Throughout the evening, there was a variety of tweets from those who had been in on the call.  The Facebook page of Obama for America in Gwinnett County, Georgia, also posted the following recap:

Hello Everyone,
I'm really excited! Just got off a conferance [sic] call with OFA Chicago- They have set up a new web site to help us get the word out about the Fiscal Cliff.
This site will give you the Facts you need- and ways to use it.
The differences between the Obama plan and the Republican plan.
Calculation tool - to figure what it will cost you if the Republicans get their way.
Call info for your Congressman
Call tool - to call others to encourage them to get in touch with their Congressman
Also convenient ways to get the word out via Email. Facebook, and Twitter.
Plus it is broken down by state-You can pull the information for all 50 states
It's time to take action - go to www.barackobama.com/fiscal-cliff
Please share with your networks, friends, family and neighbors. We've done this before - We can do it again!!

    Mentioned several times in these various posting was the new page launched the same day on Obama for America's national website on the "fiscal cliff" standoff in Washington between the president and the GOP Congress.  The conference call and the anticipated action it was intended to inspire centered around this page as a place to direct supporters and those they wished to inform for information and what they could do to help the president.  Curiously, over the next several days, there was no email to the OFA mailing list to which I subscribe promoting the new page, nor were there any further tweets about it, and the home page of the OFA website never linked to the "fiscal cliff" page.

    Then, on Monday, some time in the early afternoon, the page abruptly disappeared and a rather Jedi-like message ("SORRY, THIS ISN'T THE PAGE YOU'RE LOOKING FOR. HOW CAN WE HELP?") greeted those who attempted to access it.  At present, the page is not only not available at its original location, it has disappeared from the caches of the search engines I have checked (Google, Bing, Yahoo.)  However, I downloaded the page from the Google cache before it disappeared and have reproduced it here as a series of screen captures.  I contacted both Sara El-Amine and Geoff Berman via Twitter for an explanation, but so far have not received a reply from either. [SEE UPDATE BELOW]

    The social media prowess of the Obama for America organization is legendary, credited to a large extent with electing and reelecting Barack Obama with its grassroots outreach and marketing savvy.  What prompted this wholesale scrapping of a carefully planned and organized effort to get behind the president on the fiscal cliff negotiations.  Initially, I speculated that the tactic seemed to mirror a union negotiation tactic of talking with the other side in private (Obama's meeting with Boehner) while trashing them in public (the new web page.)  But then when the new site languished for three days before being unceremoniously deep-sixed, I wondered if it was a sign that a fiscal cliff deal was near and the White House did not want to risk antagonizing Boehner and the Republicans.

    More recent reports have suggested that the White House and the GOP are not as close to a deal as was previously rumored.  Will the "fiscal cliff" page be resurrected and pressed into service after all?  What were all the participants in the conference call told, and what are they being told now?

* * * * *
UPDATE:  Just as I was finishing this post, Sara El-Amine replied to my tweet:

    Apparently Sara El-Amine was not aware the page had been taken down.  I will update my post if I receive any further information.

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