The embattled president is taking the embattled debate over health care reform to the American people, which he promised to do throughout his campaign but failed to follow through on until the Democrats lost a pivotal Senate seat. He was called out on that lack of transparency and abject lack of bipartisanship which he also promised in his presidency, so he called this upcoming health care summit for Democrats to meet with Republicans and it will be televised. He is a pro at turning crisis into opportunity, to apply a phrase his chief of staff likes to use.

But his winning rhetoric is losing believers, so he’ll try to convert them or make them look bad for opposing his ideas. ‘It’s a trap’ warn some conservatives, ‘it’s a con’ say some skeptics. At the very least, it’s a new approach since partisanship and rhetoric haven’t worked.

As political messaging ploys go, this is probably savvy enough, but I’m not convinced it will have much effect on the pushing a bill toward passage. For one thing, it assumes (or hopes, anyway) that reiterating, yet again, all the awesome benefits of the Democratic plan will somehow cause the public to start liking it. It’s the political version of finding out that someone doesn’t speak your language and responding by repeating what you just said, only slower and louder.

Good analogy.

Savvy or not, though, the bigger problem is that this is a messaging strategy, not a vote-getting strategy.

So if it doesn’t get the votes, Obama is already working on a backup plan. Or threat.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....