A political style campaign for health insurance boondoggle

Obama may not be much of a president but few doubt his skills as a political campaigner.

Put the guy in front of an adoring crowd, make sure the teleprompter is plugged in, and push the button. Bingo! And make sure you give the address of the website 4 or 5 times so that people will go and contribute.

Hoping to duplicate his success in being elected president, Obama will activate his 13 million strong email list for donations and organization in order to get his health insurance plan passed when it comes up later this summer.

As Christina Bellantoni of the Washington Times points out, Obama's campaign has all the earmarks of turning on a political machine and pointing it toward a goal:

President Obama's former campaign apparatus is cranking up a full-tilt drive for passage of a health care overhaul this year, with organizers tapping his 13-million-strong e-mail list for donations to fund advertising, hire staff and even open election-style offices.

Organizing for America, the reincarnation of the Obama campaign that the president turned over to the Democratic National Committee after his election, reached out to supporters for their time and money to fight "special interest lobbyists and partisan ideologues" that may attempt to "water down" health care reform.

"Your contribution to our healthcare campaign fund is the vital first step that will enable us to hire the staff, open the local offices, train the volunteers, design and place the ads, and put all the other pieces in place we need to execute this urgent plan," Mitch Stewart wrote in the Organizing for America e-mail, asking, as officials did during the campaign, for as little as $5.

Mr. Stewart, executive director of the group known as OFA2, calls it an "ambitious" effort that will take "a lot of resources" and uses the highly recognizable Obama rising-sun logo in his e-mails that take on the same urgent tone and hopeful rhetoric Obama loyalists find familiar.

The first outlines of the plan appeared yesterday and as bad as many of us thought it was going to be, it appears to be worse with a "public health insurance entity to compete with private insurers and government subsidies to help lower- and middle-class families to buy health coverage."

One expert says we are entering uncharted territory with this grass roots effort:

"There really isn't a precedent for this," said Peter Kastor, a presidential history teacher at Washington University in St. Louis. "It's really important and very telling to realize that it's showing up at this moment because when it comes to health care all bets are off. It says something they activate it on this issue, which has massive political challenges."

While some business groups are onboard for some reform, others will still resist the change. How organized the opposition can be will probably tell the tale regarding whether national health insurance becomes a reality.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky