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Trippi As Manchurian Operative, Cont'd.

Try and defend a guy at the center of a nutty conspiracy theory, and darned if he doesn't go and make you look like a fool. Ben Smith observed some strange goings-on involving Joe Trippi late Saturday night:

They switched on the lights in the bar at the Hotel Fort Des Moines at 2:00 a.m. Sunday, and a crowd of two dozen buoyant young field organizers for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) spilled out onto the sidewalk, some jostling past Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, Terry McAuliffe, who had paused for a moment just inside the hotel's glass doors.

The organizers were men and women in their 20s, and all dressed identically: jeans and red T-shirts with Obama's logo and his call to arms, "Fire it up."

When a man on the edge of the group yelled the slogan, they answered with the response they'd been chanting all night: "Ready to go."

"Fire it up!" the rumpled, older man yelled again.

"Ready to go!" the crowd shouted back again. "Fire it up!" he called. "Ready to go!"

"Let's kick her ass," the cheerleader finally called out, and the crowd roared.

The cheerleader--Joe Trippi, chief adviser to Sen. John Edwards, new-politics guru, and all-around mischief maker--glanced gleefully over at McAuliffe.

I'm not sure I'm any closer to buying the idea of Trippi as a double-agent, but, at the very least, he's got a little 'splainin' to do this morning.

Also, this gives me one more chance to reach back into my interview with Trippi from several weeks ago, during which time he seemed to expend an unusual amount of mental energy contemplating Obama's stump speech:

Trippi: My--the interesting thing in watching [Obama], and it’s really an interesting thing--and, God, I’ve watched it and I just go, "Dude, if you could just, you could just turn one thing..." He has this really amazing riff, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, where he talks about the "fire it up"--

Me: "Fire it up, ready to go"? 

Trippi: No, he says, "And I learned from that woman that one voice can change a room. And if one voice can change a room, one voice can change a block. And if one voice can change a block, one voice can change a city. And if one voice can change a city [Trippi is getting more and more animated here], one voice can change a state. And if one voice can change a state, one voice can change a nation! And if one voice can change a nation, one voice can change the world!!!"

Me: I thought was great.

Trippi: No.

Me: You don’t like that?

Trippi: No, it’s what he does next. He essentially says, "Help me be that voice." Right?

Me: Yeah.

Trippi: Nooooo! God, it’s so frickin’ obvious! No, no. What he should say is, “And so, would you be that voice? If all of you were that voice…”  But he doesn’t do that.

Me: He sort of does it.

Trippi: No, no, no. What I’m trying to say is--no, it’s about. There’s something about the way he does it. I’m not saying that the words aren’t there. But when he’s saying it. Everyone in that audience is thinking he’s that voice. And he doesn’t explicitly turn it. And I don’t know if that’s about what they think he’s doing, if it’s the messiah thing. The kind of thing where he says there’s one voice that can change the world, they all think it’s him, and that he’s not talking about them. But what he needs to do--the reason this thing isn’t taking off--is because he isn’t able to get them at that moment to say it, up here [points to his head], "He’s talking about me."

Okay, so maybe deep down this guy really does want to work for Barack Obama.

--Noam Scheiber