As Democrats and labor unions fought Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s attempt to take away worker rights, the Democratic National Committee and the post-election arm of the Obama campaign, Organizing for America, mobilized Obama’s grassroots network in support of the protests in Madison.
Reported Politico’s Ben Smith:
OfA Wisconsin’s field efforts include filling buses and building turnout for the rallies this week in Madison, organizing 15 rapid response phone banks urging supporters to call their state legislators, and working on planning and producing rallies, a Democratic Party official in Washington said.
It was a decisive moment of action from a group that has often been criticized as too passive and ineffective during critical legislative fights.
Republicans leaders, such as John Boehner, quickly attacked the DNC and accused the White House of orchestrating the protests in Madison, which was patently untrue. “I urge the president to order the DNC to suspend these tactics.” Under fire from the GOP, the DNC quickly backed away from its active stance, saying that its role in the protests had been “exaggerated,” according to DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan.
Now the New York Times reports that top White House officials were furious about the DNC’s intervention in Madison:
The White House mostly has sought to stay out of the fray in Madison, Wis., and other state capitals where Republican governors are battling public employee unions and Democratic lawmakers over collective bargaining rights. When West Wing officials discovered that the Democratic National Committee had mobilized Mr. Obama’s national network to support the protests, they angrily reined in the staff at the party headquarters.
Administration officials said they saw such events beyond Washington as distractions from the optimistic “win the future” message Mr. Obama introduced with his State of the Union Address.
In other words, the White House would prefer to endlessly repeat a lame slogan rather than get involved in one of the most consequential political fights of the present day. It seems like the new White House team, the subject of the Times article, isn’t much different from the old; still more than willing to throw grassroots Obama supporters under the bus.
—Ari Berman is the author of Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics