When you see the transcript and think about it, it's obvious that Plouffe did not say that unemployment wouldn't matter to voters. He said that the percentage itself isn't what affects voters' minds. What matters is their personal subjective experience:
So, you know, people won’t vote based on the unemployment rate. They’re gonna vote based on, “How do I feel about my own situation? Do I believe the president makes decisions based on me and my family?”Sargent says:
You can argue that it was a misstep in that the quote does sound tone-deaf when reproduced without the surrounding context, and it’s understandable why people would see it as insensitive when viewed without that context.A lot of clever remarks are like that. A witty, engaging speaker will say something surprising and counterintuitive, but then flesh it out or add one more point, and then it clicks. Of course, if you have opponents, you've got to anticipate what they'll do with the little slice of what you said that seems head-slappingly idiotic. So it may not be so smart to be smart like that.
Now let's look more closely at that possibly clever notion of Plouffe's: Any given voter is going to ask not what the facts are about Americans in general, but how do I feel about what's happening to me personally and do I believe that the President cares about me.
This is how people* got hooked into voting for Obama in the first place! Plouffe and company massaged people into the place where they had a feeling about Obama. Hope. Change. Yes We Can.
And Plouffe is gearing up to do it again. The difference this time is that Obama is not an outsider to the current conditions. He represents not change, but: the same. And the current situation is dreadful. Plouffe knows that, and his comments show how he's planning, this time, to do the same thing but different. Do I believe the president makes decisions based on me and my family? Yes, you do. Or you will. Plouffe hopes.
You can savage Plouffe all you want for his seemingly stupid remark, but don't miss the opportunity to see what he revealed about the theory of the reelect Obama campaign.
*Not me. I voted for Obama, but I coolly observed all this emotionalism, soberly examined the 2 major party candidates, and made a rational choice.