The secret of Mr. Obama is that he isn’t really very good at politics, and he isn’t good at politics because he doesn’t really get people. The other day a Republican political veteran forwarded me a hiring notice from the Obama 2012 campaign. It read like politics as done by Martians. The “Analytics Department” is looking for “predictive Modeling/Data Mining” specialists to join the campaign’s “multi-disciplinary team of statisticians,” which will use “predictive modeling” to anticipate the behavior of the electorate. “We will analyze millions of interactions a day, learning from terabytes of historical data, running thousands of experiments, to inform campaign strategy and critical decisions.”
This wasn’t the passionate, take-no-prisoners Clinton War Room of ‘92, it was high-tech and bloodless. Is that what politics is now? Or does the Obama re-election effort reflect the candidate and his flaws?
Other parts of this essay are worth reading, but these two grafs may be the most clueless (and potentially disingenuous) thing that Noonan has written of late - and I say that as a fan of her writing.
To say Obama isn’t particularly good at politics is to parse things rather poorly. He may (arguably) be bad at Presidential politics, but he’s rightly recognized as being eminently skilled at electoral politics. And this job req, rather than point out how “bloodless” the President is as a politician, only demonstrates how well he understands how to win.
Passionate boots on the ground are good. Brilliant minds in the war room are better. But data? Data won the last Presidential election, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Any Republican who pretends that this req doesn’t terrify them isn’t paying attention.
I still believe in this.
I’ve been advocating something similar, to friends still in client services and on Twitter. I’ve gotten some push back, but also a number of earnest replies. Glad to see Khoi is headed in the same direction (and articulating his reasoning far better than I have).