Wednesday, August 12, 2009

White House Health Care Campaign

The Obama administration is using public communication in what appear to me to be some novel ways -- for a president.

In his general approach to health care reform, President Obama set out broad principles that he hoped would form the Congressional agenda, rather than sending a bill prepared in advance by the administration. Whether this was a largely tactical attempt to separate this round of health care from the failed Clinton plan is not clear. In some ways the President's approach seemed to hark back to the Constitutional system depicted by Jeffrey Tulis as preceding what he called The Rhetorical Presidency, in which, Tulis claimed, presidents spoke over the heads of Congress and thus short-circuited the process of Congressional deliberation.

On the other hand, the Obama White House has been using various organizing and communication tactics that bring to the White House a new level of direct citizen appeals. See, for example, the "Health Insurance Reform Reality Check" site at the White House. The site comes complete with links to post to email and Facebook and to connect to the White House Facebook and Twitter services. Whatever our views of the importance of health care reform -- I'm all for it -- this is a peculiar development and in some ways a worrying one.

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