From the "hope and change" files

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe is headed to Baku to talk about democracy:
Barack Obama's campaign manager will give a paid speech to "a pro-government NGO and mouthpiece of the president's office" in a post-Soviet autocracy with a major interest in American energy policy, according to a report.

Azeri President Aliyev, fresh off a crooked win in the November presidential race, is seeking to cement his power by putting through a constitutional amendment to end presidential term limits (the current limit is two terms). As a good democrat, Aliyev has blocked opposition access to the media, while he uses his his cronies to push the measure:
Chairmen of the parliamentary commissions Ali Huseynov, Rabiyat Aslanova and Safa Mirzayev expressed their opinion about the changes during the parliamentary meeting.

The US embassy there claims he will be acting as a "private citizen," but Plouffe would have to be hopelessly naive not to realize that his talk will be used by the regime as a further piece of evidence that this referendum is a perfectly legitimate form of democratic expression. I had Azeris tell me with a straight face that the same election watchers who lambasted the legitimacy of the previous election cycle in fact saw nothing wrong, and that this proves that the country is democratic. By giving this speech, at this time, in this country, Plouffe is doing a massive disservice to the cause of democracy.