The Enthusiasm Gap

Unquestionably one challenge for the White House is that they haven’t succeeded in mobilizing their supporters to the degree they were able to during the campaign. But I see this as largely a sub-element of the problems they’ve been having with the congressional schedule and in particular the Senate Finance Committee. If Finance had done its work on time, we’d be having a “summer health care fight” that was about a more-or-less fixed object, with proponents of the plan arguing with its opponents. You would also have members of congress committed to the plan, members opposed, and a defined group of undecided members. Then you could mobilize grassroots supporters to contact undecided members and urge them to push reform.

What we have instead is a mush. It’s hard to be sure what “reform” is. And it’s hard to be sure who to pressure. Is Chuck Grassley an ally or an enemy? Is Max Baucus? Is Olympia Snowe? Opponents know that they’re against Obama and for the status quo. Proponents of change are having problems identifying exactly what’s happening.