The Campaign Spot

Cheering Crowds Are Much More Fun Than Skeptical Blue Dogs

My lengthy take on today’s Obama rally at the University of Maryland is now in the hands of the editors, but for now, a few points that didn’t make it into the piece.

A reader sent in this anecdote from the Post’s coverage:

[College Park waiter Rob] Martinsen chatted briefly with a woman handing out literature arguing against Obama’s plan, but he walked away unconvinced.

“Their main point is it’s expensive, but that shouldn’t matter too much,” he said. “Health care is a right.”

The idea being, having failed to persuade skeptics who think his plan is too expensive, Obama is writing them off and focusing on the segments of the electorate who don’t care about cost.

It’s possible. During today’s event, I started wondering if Obama’s tactics in the health-care debate are being driven by nostalgia for the good old days of last year’s campaign, when he was new and exciting and his every utterance generated roars of applause. The problem for Obama isn’t that University of Maryland students aren’t sufficiently fired up and ready to go. The problem is 52 Blue Dogs in the House, 80-some members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who claim they’ll walk out if the public option isn’t included, Sen. Max Baucus, Sen. Olympia Snowe’s skepticism of even the Baucus plan, the fact that even 60 Democrats may not be enough to get 60 votes in the Senate, and the fact that his health-care plan is polling at 42 percent. Today’s event did nothing to resolve any of these problems.