Barack Obama’s Online Policy Army

An early start

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By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Interesting piece in today's Washington Post , looking at how the soon-to-be Obama administration is already using the high-tech tools and tactics from the campaign to lay the groundwork for the coming debate on healthcare policy (in much the way that Brad Bannon wrote about here on Monday).

Of course, it's never simple:

In seeking to translate its political skills to policymaking, the incoming administration faces potential legal and political pitfalls. It is not clear, for instance, whether Obama can legally use his list of campaign supporters in the White House; the database would probably become government property. So far, the transition team has gotten around that issue by encouraging people to register on its Web site, Change.gov. Those names and e-mail addresses go into a new database, which can be tapped to generate activities such as house parties, YouTube videos and viral discussions to rally support.

But if they can work out the kinks, it's probably smart politics:

By moving early, Daschle and Obama are also applying a central lesson learned in past failed efforts to overhaul the health system, said Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union.

"This is an opportunity to deepen the education work and build the ultimate coalition for change before it's demonized or people try to oppose it," he said. 

In other words, get the troops rallied before the other side whips up its forces. How the Obama team moves forward on this will be interesting to watch.