• U.S.

Tweeting for Health-Care Relief

2 minute read
Dan Fletcher

With poll numbers sagging and deadlines under threat, Obama needs health-care help — badly. Perhaps that’s why the President is turning to Twitter.

Yes, Twitter. Because nothing spells commitment like 140 characters of lucid, compelling argument, there’s a new Tweet Your Senator page on BarackObama.com, the website maintained by the Democratic National Committee. Here, you can log-in and send one of a half a dozen or so prewritten tweets to your state’s Senators. And for your trouble, you get to see your picture and tweet pop up on a map of the U.S. Shiny!

(Follow TIME on Twitter.)

Only about 20 Senators have established Twitter accounts — for the rest, your tweet is simply directed to their name. For Senators like, say, West Virginia’s Robert C. Byrd, sending a tweet is probably one of the surest ways not to get the 91-year-old lawmaker’s attention.

Even for the most visible Twittering Senator, @SenJohnMccain, the messages don’t seem to be making much of an impact. Only a few dozen people have used the Twitter map to send their thoughts to McCain, and he responded with a tweet of his own: “According to Rasmussen, 52% of AZ voters oppose the current Health care reform plan — I agree, we need the right reform.” Tweets clearly aren’t changing any hearts or minds there.

But the effort got at least one thing right: when I tried to alter my suggested tweet in order to ask New York Senator Charles Schumer if he agreed with me that this whole thing was rather asinine, the tweet posted — but never showed up on the U.S. map. (Touché.) In the Twitter battle for health-care reform, there’s not a lot of room to go off message.

Become a fan of TIME on Facebook.

Download TIME’s new, free BlackBerry application.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com