Obama's Organizing for America: a corps of supporters answerable only to him? Fight disasters and political enemies? (CNSF)
The Barack Obama movement is about to get even creepier, with his announcement of "Organizing for America" ("OFA"), part of "Barack Obama 2.0", the continuation of his campaign even after he's been elected president.
"As President, I will need the help of all Americans to meet the challenges that lie ahead," Obama said in a video message e-mailed to supporters (and reporters) this morning. "That's why I'm asking people like you who fought for change during the campaign to continue fighting for change in your communities."
The video is here. Apparently OFA will be part of the Democratic National Committee, an organization that Obama more or less controls. While there don't appear to be many details on the group, see the report "Retooling Obama's campaign machine for the long haul" from Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times (link):
As Barack Obama builds his administration and prepares to take office next week, his political team is quietly planning for a nationwide hiring binge that would marshal an army of full-time organizers to press the new president's agenda and lay the foundation for his reelection.
...Organizers and even Republicans say the scope of this permanent campaign structure is unprecedented for a president. People familiar with the plan say Obama's team would use the network in part to pressure lawmakers -- particularly wavering Democrats -- to help him pass complex legislation on the economy, healthcare and energy.
...In what would be another unprecedented step, Obama's political staff is deciding whether to create a service organization that would use the vast corps of its grass-roots campaign supporters. As described by one source knowledgeable with the discussions, this nonprofit arm would be used to help victims of natural disasters, but would do so under the Obama umbrella while continuing to build the overall network's massive e-mail database.
The prospect of a president being able to guide a service or relief agency outside the framework of his government is a unique development...
Drawing historical parallels is left as an exercise (see this for a start), but note of course that they were only "deciding" what would be involved. Just how creepy it is remains to be seen.