If you want to argue that the Obama administration’s policies towards Iran are soft because of a speech that David Plouffe gave in 2010 to a South African company, you can go ahead and do that. I think the simpler explanation is that President Obama is the man who declared in a Democratic presidential debate that he was willing to meet with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without preconditions. This is not a man with gut-level revulsion for the Iranian regime, which announced its worldview and intent to the world by taking Americans hostage and parading them before television cameras, which spent the following decades becoming the preeminent state sponsor of terror and blew up 19 U.S. Airmen in Khobar Towers in 1996. President Obama is a man who really does believe, or did believe, that America and Iran could “get past” previous acts of mass murder and come to a peaceful agreement.
No, the bigger story out of the Plouffe speeches is that President Obama, who campaigned so passionately against what he called the “revolving door” between the highest levels of government and the lobbying/influence business, has absolutely no problem with it when his friends do it.
The White House assures us that Plouffe merely went to speak to the company about “mobile technology and digital communications.” It was merely his technical expertise, and not his connection to the president, that spurred MTN Group to spend $100,000, and probably about $5,000-$10,000 on air fare (how likely is it that Plouffe flew coach, or had many layovers?) and more on lodging.