Ben Smith reports that Obama has “surrendered” on outside spending. Leaving aside the use of the word surrender, Smith cites democratic operatives like Clinton campaign bigwig Harold Ickes and consultant Steve Rosenthal as the arbiters of campaign success:
“When you’re in a fight — and we’re in a real fight — you want as much help as you can get from any quarter,” said former Clinton aide Harold Ickes, who recruited megadonors led by George Soros to give some $200 million to Democratic efforts in 2004. “It doesn’t seem to me that there’s been much encouragement from the White House for outside help.”
“We need to set up something on our side again for 2012 that will basically do what we did in ’04 and what Rove and his crowd did in 2010,” [Rosenthal] said. “We can’t go into 2012 and be caught with our pants down, the way we were in this election.”
The irony of course is that the real lesson of 2004 is that big Democratic outside groups failed. Why would we want to set up something that will basically do what we did in ’04? So we can lose again? Why replicate a failing model? Beyond protecting the brand and controlling the message, the reason it was so important for Obama to consolidate control in 2008 was because farming-out key pieces of your political operation to outside groups is a terrible strategy. It does not work.