David Plouffe is going to Azerbaijan, says the Washington Post. Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager, is even going to meet with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. What is he going to be doing in Baku, exactly? Developing grass-roots organizing tools for the Aliyev dictatorship? Helping Aliyev organize for upcoming caucuses? (Or should I say Caucasus?) I somehow doubt that Plouffe is going to be doing any of those things. The Post reports:
His trip to Azerbaijan is scheduled to include a speech today at Gerb University in the capital of Baku, followed by a meeting with President Ilham Aliyev and the speaker of the parliament, Oktay Asadov, according to Radio Free Europe, which first reported on the trip.
“Plouffe is coming as a private citizen,” Terry Davidson, a spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan, told Radio Free Europe. “The embassy is not in charge of his schedule.”
Hmm. There are two possibilities here, as far as I can see: 1) Plouffe was sent to Baku by Obama for track-two negotations about some issue that is off of the puplic’s radar, like maybe oil pipelines or something. 2) Plouffe is cashing in. The guy just won a presidential election (he was the “unsung hero”) and now he’s ready to make some money off of it. He just signed a seven figure book deal. So why shouldn’t he go speak at Gerb University for a hundred thousand dollars and meet with Aliyev under the assumption that he’ll peddle some influence.
The second option seems more likely to me. Big consulting fees for important political operatives, especially from oil rich dictators, are hardly unheard of. It’s just interesting that now it’s Obama’s people.
Then again, maybe Plouffe just wants a good excuse to go carpet shopping.