News From Terre Haute, Indiana


December 2, 2008

STEPHANIE SALTER: Thanks for donating a half a billion bucks; we need more

TERRE HAUTE — You can’t just ask for money. You’ve got to involve them. That’s why the famous videos with [David] Plouffe were so important. People felt like insiders. They felt like they knew what we were doing.

— Obama campaign chief of staff Jim Messina, the Nov. 17 New Yorker.

Note to “Obama For America” campaign manager David Plouffe, et al:

Hey, guys. Give the fundraising a rest, will you? Not forever, but for a decent interval that will demonstrate that your astoundingly successful presidential campaign did not go culturally tone deaf on Nov. 5.

Shortly after the election, I didn’t mind the victorious Barack Obama campaign e-mailing to ask millions of online supporters for money to help the Democratic National Committee.

Although I wasn’t ready to even think about opening the old wallet again for politics*** that appeal made some sense. The DNC had done a lot of ground work for the president-elect in often-ignored states; scores of local Democratic candidates were in need of post-campaign infusions.

(***Disclosure distinction: When I was a reporter, covering the news as objectively as humanly possible, I adhered to common journalistic ethics and refrained from donating money to any candidates. That is a good rule that reporters and news editors need to follow. Now that my job is exclusively opinion, I feel free to donate — as long as I am open about it.)

As I said, I didn’t mind being asked, but I didn’t donate, either.

A couple of weeks ago, when Obama introduced most of his dazzling economics team to the world, I was slightly irritated to read about it later that day in an e-mail from Plouffe that ended with the usual, “Please Donate” tab link.

Since the election, Plouffe’s point has been that everyone who “owned” a piece of Barack’s unprecedented march to the White House by donating money and time to the campaign also can own a piece of the new administration. Obama For America will stay in existence to keep — you should excuse my mixed metaphor — the grassroots drums beating for change.

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