Shortly after Barack Obama won the White House, I called up Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's Web-savvy onetime campaign manager, to talk about why he thought Obama would be a "different kind" of president. Back then—long before AIG bonuses, "death panels," the underpants bomber, and Martha Coakley—many supporters argued that Obama's brilliant, tech-savvy campaign suggested a new model for governing. The president-elect and many on his staff promised that when they took office, the Web would be at the center of their efforts to reach out to the public. Among several initiatives, the candidate vowed to post pending legislation online for comments.
Trippi predicted that Obama could use the Web to rise above the daily news cycle and marshal millions of supporters to his policy goals. This echoed the central dogma of the Obama campaign. The candidate had beaten the establishment by inspiring a network of millions who'd never been politically active before. Now he'd do the same thing to beat Washington lobbyists and recalcitrant lawmakers. "I think it's going to be one of the most powerful presidencies we've seen since FDR, and maybe even more powerful," Trippi said. "Even the best presidents have never had a way to connect directly with millions of Americans—Obama will have that."Trippi believes that the White House can change this. There's still enough goodwill between Obama and his supporters, Trippi argues, that if the president were to try to reinvigorate efforts to create a real social network of activists, people might respond. And if they don't? There's always Campaign 2012.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
"Why hasn't the Obama administration lived up to its webby promises?"
Farhad Manjoo (Slate):