MoveOn has been running strong ads in Louisiana against Mary Landrieu, who — as Chris Bowers notes — is against anything resembling a public plan.
In a pre-holiday call with half a dozen top House and Senate Democrats, Obama expressed his concern over advertisements and online campaigns targeting moderate Democrats, whom they criticize for not being fully devoted to "true" health-care reform.
"We shouldn’t be focusing resources on each other," Obama opined in the call, according to three sources who participated in or listened to the conversation. "We ought to be focused on winning this debate."
Specifically, Obama said he is hoping left-leaning organizations that worked on his behalf in the presidential campaign will now rally support for "advancing legislation" that fulfills his goal of expanding coverage, controlling rising costs and modernizing the health system.
In recent weeks, liberal bloggers and grass-roots groups such as MoveOn.org, Democracy for America, Service Employees International Union and Progressive Change Campaign Committee have targeted Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Arlen Specter (Pa.), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.).
But Maxine Waters says the Landrieu campaign has been very effective, and encourages MoveOn to keep going. As she tells Robert Greenwald:
As a matter of fact, MoveOn.org went after Mary Landrieu, down in Louisiana. Loved it. I thought it was very effective, and I am waiting to see what kind of feedback we’re going to get. I am going to be in New Orleans this weekend, I’m gonna be asking around: "Did you see the Mary Landrieu ad?" It seemed very effective to me. And I think this is very important work at this particular time…
I think that without nearly as much effort as you would think, that we can deal with Big Pharma. I really do. And one of the things we must do is — the President has been talking with Big Pharma and the insurance companies, and they are say that they are going to be cooperative while they organize all their money and their lobbyists to come aget us.
And so I think what we have to say to the President – – we don’t expet him to be misled in this effort. That single payer extremely important, but the least we can get is a public option and I understand that that’s under review at this time. But that’s the least we could take.
She also said:
Let me just say to all of our friends out there, that a sustained effort, directed at public officials, demanding no less than a public option, can be very successful. So go to work.
This is going to be a watershed moment for the "interest groups" who have been careful to chart a course in clear support of the President, who have so far been able to preserve their integrity and align their activites with the White House’s wishes at the same time.
But there is no question that these hard-hitting campaigns representing breast cancer survivors and others have been successful, and they have been instrumental in backing Ben Nelson and Kay Hagan off their opposition to a public plan. The memberships of these organizations are in clear support of their efforts, and with 76% of the country in support of a public plan, the President seems to be one of the unhappy few who oppose their tactics.
Will these groups risk getting kicked off the 8:45 call, left out of Unity 09, disciplined in front of Common Purpose, and having their names expunged from the White House cocktail party list? As I wrote on April 8:
There’s a big problem right now with the traditional liberal interest groups sitting on the sidelines around major issues because they don’t want to buck the White House for fear of getting cut out of the dialogue, or having their funding slashed. Someone picks up a phone, calls a big donor, and the next thing you know…the money is gone.
This is the moment when the liberal interest groups must to decide: are they going to represent the interests of their members and keep going, or are they going to play the access game and bow to Obama’s wishes?
These groups have acted as firewalls to shield Obama from liberal critique. As traditional institutional liberal validators and stakeholders, their silence on a variety of issues — from financial regulation to the escalation of the war in Afghanistan to energy and beyond — have acted as insulation for the administration as it breaks one campaign promise after the other. We saw it last week with the hastily arranged cocktail party for LGBT leaders last week — the way Obama mutes liberal criticism is by reaching out to those at the top and rewarding them personally with access rather than making adjustments in policy or legislative strategy.
But it’s clear that on the issue of health care, these groups can’t have it both ways any more. And everyone is going to be watching to see what happens.