The New Yorker: Battle Plans

Battle Plans
— How Obama Won
by Ryan Lizza.
Via The New Yorker, November 17, 2008

Was reading this in bed on Sunday morning.
Was excitedly peddling many finer points mentioned by the article to ZM, then to Gui.

Then was overwhelmed by the surreal looking thick foam at Fort Funston, by the time i was done processing photos and finished a blog on the foam in Chinese, the morning excitement had worn off.

Now come the next morning, and I feel obliged to at least link to this great article and maybe just note down a few peddling points for the record.

1. people
The catchphrase inside the campaign was “No drama with Obama,” and Plouffe channelled the low-key temperament of the candidate himself. “Barack went out and sought people who had a certain personality type,” …When, in January, 2007, Pfeiffer interviewed for his job, Obama told him, “What I want around me are people who are calm, who don’t get too high and don’t get too low, because that’s how I am.”

2. ego
Obama, who is not without an ego, regarded himself as just as gifted as his top strategists in the art and practice of politics….Obama said that he liked being surrounded by people who expressed strong opinions, but he also said, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

3. An Independent Thinker
During July 2007 YouTube Democrat debate, Obama said he would meet with leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea without precondition. Afterwards, Obama’s staff thought that’s a mistake and needs clarification and defending. But Obama said something to the effect of “This is ridiculous. We met with Stalin. We met with Mao. The idea that we can’t meet with Ahmadinejad is ridiculous. This is a bunch of Washington-insider conventional wisdom that makes no sense. We should not run from this debate. We should have it.”

4. the moment where he began looking like a President…
The Obama campaign was organized around a series of conference calls, the most important of which was a nightly call involving Obama and some dozen senior advisers….On these calls, Obama’s advisers had a chance to watch their candidate grapple with complex economic problems. During one, Obama laid out the steps in negotiating the bailout package: he would call the Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, and the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, and consult with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Pfeiffer said, “We all got off the phone and I was, like, ‘You know what? That was the first call that felt like that’s what it’s going to be like if he’s President.’ That was the moment where he began looking like a President and not a Presidential candidate.”

6. to emerge intact
Axelrod said to me that, early in the process, Obama told aides, “I’m in this to win, I want to win, and I think we will win. But I’m also going to emerge intact. I’m going to be Barack Obama and not some parody.” At another point, in early 2007, Obama returned from a forum about health care knowing that he had not done well against Hillary Clinton. “She was very good, and I need to meet that standard, meet that test,” he told Axelrod. “I am not a great candidate now, but I am going to figure out how to be a great candidate.” One of Obama’s achievements as a politician is that he somehow managed to emerge intact, after navigating two years of a modern and occasionally absurd Presidential race, while also becoming a great candidate. On Election Night, as he once again invoked the words of Lincoln, he seemed to be saying that he was going to figure out how to be a great President.