( – promoted by lowkell)
by Paul Goldman
David Plouffe, the very talented top White House advisor who took over for David Axelrod, is the middle man in a developing story. According to the Washington Post, a “subsidiary of MTN Group, a South Africa-based telecommunications company, paid Plouffe for two speeches he made in Nigeria in December 2010.” That was roughly a month or so prior to Plouffe’s joining the White House as the top campaign guy, with an office right by the Oval Office.
Unfortunately, MTN Group is now under scrutiny for its connections to the government of Iran – some claim they are in bed with the Revolutionary Guards – and there is also an alleged Syrian connection. Some claim Mr. Plouffe should have known about this back then.
Let’s be clear: this is the kind of political issue in the middle of August that may have no substance whatsoever, but that can take on a life of its own. In cases like this, often it is not about the facts, just the optics. That’s life at the top of the political game. So far, it is mostly smoke, not much (if any) fire in the news reports.
But that’s now; who knows what happens in the next 24 hours? After all, this is the age of the out-of-control forest fire in politics, where everyone seems to be like a new recruit for the Mafia, out to make their “bones.” Shoot first, ask questions later – if ever. It is all about body count. Both sides have accepted the rules.
So there is a reasonable chance this thing will go viral. It seems a win-win for the conservative side of the blogosphere. Why not go for the KO on Plouffe, they are surely thinking?
Of course, we all know why Mr. Plouffe got paid what he did (obviously, the organizers of the event wanted to have President Obama’s 2008 campaign manager on the program). We also know that Plouffe did absolutely nothing wrong in terms of our laws. Plouffe was a private citizen who had the ear of the President on political matters, or so the organizers thought.
Now, we all know that when someone pays $40,000 to attend a presidential fundraiser, it isn’t the food that makes the meal. Of course, the “friends” of Bush, Clinton, Reagan, etc. all did it too, so there is no place to be self-righteous here. Mr. Plouffe did nothing wrong, or unusual, nor is there any claim that he tried to use his influence to help those paying his fee directly or indirectly.
But like I say: the basic facts are basically irrelevant compared to the optics. Namely, Democrats have been demanding that Mr. Romney release his taxes and other information about his business life, so there is now a good chance Mr. Plouffe’s life in the last few years is also about to go under the political MRI machine.
BUT THAT ISN’T THE BIG RISK.
If I were David, this would be my worry: there is a reasonable chance the mainstream media, under attack from conservatives for an anti-Romney, pro-Obama bias, might decide to refute those allegations by using Mr. Plouffe as proof they kick Democrats hard too.
Why? Journalists do not like to have their fairness questioned. They are seething at the anti-Romney bias claim.
But at the same time, they know there is no way to disprove a negative in politics except, perhaps, to make an example of some high profile Democrat aligned with the President.
It is a cruel business, trying to show you are not “biased” in today’s political world. The media derides this, but they also play the game at times for their own good. My gut: 20% chance the media caves into GOP demands for David’s head. Decent odds, but not great.
The next 72 hours should tell the tale. Those 20% odds can change up or down at any moment for no good reason, indeed usually for all the bad ones. The pro-Romney side will push this one to the max. Let’s see if they get any traction. Not likely, but it’s the dog days of August, so strange things can happen.