Diminishing returns

DIMINISHING RETURNS…. Right-wing activists, lobbying organizations, and assorted Tea Party groups have been pretty aggressive in organizing events in opposition to health care reform. Some have were fairly successful in generation attention and sizable crowds.

Others, less so.

The national Tea Party effort to turn up the heat on Democratic members of Congress in an attempt to defeat President Obama’s healthcare overhaul legislation is getting off to a slow start.

Organizers of the “Take the Town Halls to Washington” effort said they hoped to meet with about 50 House Democrats as they try to kill the kill. So far, Mark Skoda, one of the event’s organizers, said he met with three House members.

Two of the three members who met with Tea Party activists? Republican Reps. Steve King of Iowa and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota — arguably the two most right-wing members of the House, who probably didn’t need much in the way of convincing.

So, the “Take the Town Halls to Washington” push intended to reach 50 House Dems, and actually reached one (Rep. Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania). That the far-right initiative is being directly subsidized by the Republican National Committee didn’t seem to help.

Reform proponents shouldn’t get over-confident about this — this new Tea Party effort may yet pick up steam — but it’s a reminder about diminishing returns.

The first time Fox News and lobbying organizations urged the Teabagging crowd to come to Washington to fight against improvements to our dysfunctional health care system, the turnout was reasonably good. The second time, not quite as good. By the time November’s “house calls” came around, the crowd was looking a little thin. December’s event on the Hill was an embarrassing flop.

And the newest effort intended to reach 50 House Democrats, and fell 49 short.

As strategies go, there’s nothing wrong with keeping the base motivated, but even the most committed activist, after having been told it’s time to take time off from work once more to attack a pretty sensible health reform plan, is likely to ask, “Again?”

Just as Democrats are generating some momentum for final passage, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if the opposition is running out of steam.