Despite widely publicized resistance, Barack Obama will have to give up his
BlackBerry on Inauguration Day, but will retain his e-mail address book and
the 13 million addresses that formed the foundation of the campaign that won
him the U.S. presidential election.
The manager of the campaign, David
Plouffe, has been lauded as a political chess master partly for his
engineering of a 21st-century grassroots initiative anchored in the
At an event arranged by the Economic Club of Canada yesterday, Mr.
Plouffe spoke to business leaders and several swooning policy makers at the
Metro Toronto Convention Centre about, among other things, the political
power of the Internet.
Mr. Plouffe, who is working on a book about the campaign, hasn't taken a
position in the new administration, but will maintain his ties to the Obama
camp through efforts to further harness the potential of the Internet-based
network developed during the campaign.
With a boyish smile and hand choreography reminiscent of his former boss, Mr.
Plouffe, devoted most of his post-luncheon speech to a trip down campaign memory
lane. He drew snickers when he ruefully described his reaction to news that the
Republican candidate, John McCain, had chosen Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his
To say we were surprised is an understatement, he said.
He spoke only briefly of the e-mails, forwards and video links he believes
could be as effective in promoting political causes and policies as they were in
promoting his former boss.
I think it's breaking down barriers, I think it's a way of making people
feel more connected to their government and in our country a lot of people
feel disconnected, he said. And I think that people feel more connected if you
give them more information, or make more information widely available; I think
they'll be more trusting.
Such policy-promoting techniques may be especially valuable to politicians in
Canada, where a federal election doesn't promise a four-year term, and where
voter turnout in the last election dipped to a record low.
Frank McKenna, deputy chairman of TD Bank Financial Group and a former
Liberal cabinet minister who secured a front-row seat to the event, acknowledged
that the Obama campaign engaged voters in an enviable way.
I think we have a lot to learn, he said.
Toronto Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy, who also attended the luncheon, agreed.
I think Mr. Obama has something to show us about how to connect with people
and get them really engaged, he said.
Security concerns mean that the fate of Mr. Obama's campaign to save his
personal BlackBerry is likely sealed, but the efficacy of Mr. Plouffe's
techniques to champion the incoming president's policies, such as his proposed
economic stimulus package, is still up in the air.
What's certain is that Ottawa will be watching.
Notice how the Globe & Mail are
increasingly refusing to allow comments? The number of articles that invite
comment are decreasing and the time allowed for comments is also getting less.
The Globe is quite willing to invite comment about news or issues outside of
Canada or on items of little controversy. The more controversial the issue, the
more important the issue to Canadians the Globe chooses those articles to
restrict comment. When comment is made, it appears the rich and powerful have
their influence by threatening litigation to have articles removed regardless of
how factual they are or how much of the information contained in those posts is
part of the public legal record in Canada or elsewhere. www.OttawaMensCentre.com
- Posted 13/01/09 at 11:10 PM EST