Donald Rumsfeld, former SecDef under George W. Bush, outraged listeners when he observed that you don’t go to war with the army you’d like, but with the one you’ve got. This in response to concerns about equipment for the military during the War on Terror. From a persuasion perspective I’d argue that anyone who felt outraged at that observation is a muggle, yet anyone who’d say something like that out loud is not a maven. This truth you keep to yourself. As a persuasion guy you should realize you don’t persuade with the army you’d like, but with the one you’ve got. Stated by my Rule:
Great Persuaders Don’t Need Rich Uncles, Kindness from Strangers, or Third Party Vote Splitters.
You take what you’ve got, what you find, and what you can pry loose from the Local and with that, Change the Other Guys. Anything else is Blanche DuBois. With this in mind, let’s consider the Obama re-election effort.
WASHINGTON — The White House has begun an aggressive campaign to use approaching Supreme Court arguments on the new health care law as a moment to build support for the measure seen as President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, hoping to shape public opinion on an issue at the center of the battle for the White House and Congress.
You’ll recall Health Care Reform We Can Believe It and that the law now faces Supreme Court review before the November election. Big issue. Big election implications. So, rally the troops and away we go. Except.
Administration officials said that they would much prefer to focus on job creation and the need for clean energy at the moment and that the court arguments were forcing health care to the forefront. But they appear to have decided that they cannot risk allowing the court proceedings to unfold without making sure that backers of the sweeping overhaul will be prominent and outspoken.
Let me rewrite this from the Obama team perspective. I think I can win in November attacking on job creation and clean energy, but not on health care. However, the army I’ve got wants to attack on health care, too. So I will go to election with the army I’ve got.
On Wednesday, White House officials summoned dozens of leaders of nonprofit organizations that strongly back the health law to help them coordinate plans for a prayer vigil, press conferences and other events outside the court when justices hear arguments for three days beginning March 26.
Team Obama will do this despite the bad optics of these behind-the-curtain machinations. Here’s how they handle both the unruly allies and the bad perceptions.
Sensitive to the idea that they were encouraging demonstrations, White House officials denied that they were trying to gin up support by encouraging rallies outside the Supreme Court, just a stone’s throw from Congress on Capitol Hill. They said a main purpose of this week’s meeting, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House, was to give the various groups a chance to learn of the plans.
That’s better. They’re not organizing demonstrations at the Supreme Court. They’re learning about each other’s plans. Whew.
Think that will fly, run, or float?
Obama is getting dragged into fights on health care he would rather avoid, seeing better chances with jobs and energy. But thinking, if not talking, like Rumsfeld, Obama is going to election with the army he’s got even at the risk of crashing, falling, or sinking.
P.S. Please tell me you know Blanche DuBois.