With poll numbers sagging and deadlines under threat, Obama needs health-care help badly. Perhaps that's why the President is turning to Twitter.
Yes, Twitter. Because nothing spells commitment like 140 characters of lucid, compelling argument, there's a new Tweet Your Senator page on BarackObama.com, the website maintained by the Democratic National Committee. Here, you can log-in and send one of a half a dozen or so prewritten tweets to your state's Senators. And for your trouble, you get to see your picture and tweet pop up on a map of the U.S. Shiny!
Only about 20 Senators have established Twitter accounts for the rest, your tweet is simply directed to their name. For Senators like, say, West Virginia's Robert C. Byrd, sending a tweet is probably one of the surest ways not to get the 91-year-old lawmaker's attention.
Even for the most visible Twittering Senator, @SenJohnMccain, the messages don't seem to be making much of an impact. Only a few dozen people have used the Twitter map to send their thoughts to McCain, and he responded with a tweet of his own: "According to Rasmussen, 52% of AZ voters oppose the current Health care reform plan I agree, we need the right reform." Tweets clearly aren't changing any hearts or minds there.
But the effort got at least one thing right: when I tried to alter my suggested tweet in order to ask New York Senator Charles Schumer if he agreed with me that this whole thing was rather asinine, the tweet posted but never showed up on the U.S. map. (Touché.) In the Twitter battle for health-care reform, there's not a lot of room to go off message.