Reporter's Note: President Obama went to Capitol Hill to push passage of health care reform. It’s Saturday. I went to walk the dog, then to my computer to write my daily letter to the White House.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
I’ve come to believe that your political strategy is a good bit like fishing from a speedboat. You make a great big rush and a lot of noise getting to your favorite spot, but then you just quiet down and wait for a bite. Am I onto something here? Your team came roaring into the White House in January spitting fire and promising to take on every issue in the book simultaneously. The political intelligentsia (yes, I laugh when I say that too) all beat their heads with their fists, tore at their hair shirts, and swore “It just can’t be done! You can’t take on that many explosive issues in one fell swoop, why you’ll… uh…break your desk, or get a headache, or…well, something.” I must say, it did seem impossible.
Now, however, I’m wondering if you have stumbled into an unusual and possibly effective way to wage political warfare: Get everyone stirred up; make the opposition open fire with everything they have; then sit back and wait. Wait until the public and your opponents get tired. Wait until we media types grow bored of writing about whatever the subject is (and trust me, we’ve become the kings of Short-Attention Span Land.) Wait until no one is really watching. Then roll out legislation, rush toward a vote, and hope it’s under your pen before anyone can organize a revolt.
As pure strategy, it’s not bad. First, I don’t think you can pass a “water is wet” bill without facing stiff opposition from someone these days. Second, the winds for or against change can blow with great fury, but not forever. This idea of simply waiting for an opportune moment to strike may be the wave of the future for everyone, Democratic and Republican.
Of course, keeping your supporters in line (especially Pelosi and that House crowd) for a long time is also difficult. And the longer you ramp up to a vote, the more a victory may appear diminished (“Well, the president finally got a watered down version of his bill through.”) or a loss magnified (“Months of work; crushed on the floor of Congress today.”)
So it’s a high risk game, but you knew that when you signed up, eh? Good luck with the fishing. And call me on your way back to the boat dock. Had a nice run this afternoon, btw. Go Saints!
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