Belmont Club

"In the interests of honest debate"

This is a verbatim excerpt from a White House Blog called The Blog (http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/Facts-Are-Stubborn-Things/). It’s a request to notify them of sites or people who are saying bad things about the administration’s health care “reform” proposals.

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to [email protected]

Leaving aside the creepier aspects of the request, the call for ‘tips’ by The Blog may just be an example of the Online Reputation Management (ORM) of an endangered brand. The Foundry, a site associated with the Heritage Foundation, notes that the administration’s health care proposal has been taking a beating in the polls. The word is out: Obamacare sucks and the professionals are out in force to “manage” its faltering image. So isn’t it natural to find out who is dissing it, as a prelude to setting them straight?

Google Alerts is one of several ORM tools “which notifies its users by email (or as a feed) about the latest web and news pages of their choice.” Unfortunately, Google doesn’t spider emails too well; hence, the The Blog’s request to readers to report suspicious emails to [email protected] What sets The Blog’s efforts apart from other ORM efforts is the context. It’s not just defending a product; it’s defending a side. I predict that if the current debate continues to polarize people they will start to form trust networks. The dreaded question “whose side are you on?” will start to be asked before any views are exchanged. When people choose sides it is inevitably the beginning of the end of “honest debate”. Sides in unalterable conflict don’t debate each other, they contend with each other for victory. Is health care “reform” worth that kind of polarization? Maybe health care really isn’t what the debate is about anyway. At any rate, if you see anything interesting, do note it at The Belmont Club. In the interests of honest debate.


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