Ask the President results (belatedly) … and a question for Harry Reid

Thanks everybody who voted for and tweeted about our Ask the President question:

Before you were elected, you committed to having your attorney general review domestic surveillance policy. What are your plans and timeframe to get FISA right?

We wound up with 268 yes votes, 16 no for +252 net and an astonishing 94% approval rating.  Depending on how you look at it, we finished #7 (in terms of net votes) or #1 (in terms of approval rating).  Bob Fertik’s special prosecutor question was at 1020 yes, 371 no, 73% approval, and finished #3 in net votes at +640.  Congratulations all!

Of course Ask the President was just a vehicle.  Our goals were getting more coverage of FISA and domestic wiretapping issues, and resuming our dialog with President Obama. 

Disappointingly, none of the credentialled journalists at the White House news conference on March 24th asked any of the Ask the President questions.  President Obama did answer several of the economy-related ones at his online town hall on the 26th, and Jake Tapper asked a couple more at the press briefing that day … but alas, no FISA.   As far as I know, we also didn’t show up in any of the press about Ask the President.  Oh well.

More positively, I had an excellent discussion on Twitter with Washington Times White House reporter Jon Ward.  Jon thought our question was a good one “because it’s one of many issues that are not being focused on right now as the economy dominates.”   Indeed.   Once the budget is passed and the press starts discussing a broader array of issues, this connection is likely to be extremely valuable.  Warrantless wiretapping, the Constitution, and the rule of law aren’t partisan issues.  Getting some good coverage in the conservative press that highlights the range of opinions in the Republican party — with quotes from civil-liberties-loving conservatives and libertarians as well as neocons and other “Aricle 2” proponents — could be hugely helpful to us.

On the whole it’s a decent outcome.  We didn’t spend a lot of time on this: I sent a few emails and did a blog post, about a dozen people tweeted about it.  We got a useful connection and by showing up in the top 10 reminded President Obama that we aren’t going away.  Not bad for such a small amount of work.

So let’s do it again, turning our attention to the Senate.  Ask Your Lawmaker is a project from the Capitol News Connection where people can vote on questions for their reporters to ask Congresspeople; they record the answers and make them available online and to public radio stations.   Here’s my question to Harry Reid:

What are your plans and timeframe for FISA and PATRIOT Act reform legislation?

If you think it’s a good question, please vote for it.  Thanks!



One Response to Ask the President results (belatedly) … and a question for Harry Reid

  1. jonpincus says:

    By the way, in light of some earlier discussion in the Google Group:

    Twitter-based activism was very influential in Ask the President: most of the questions that have gotten asked or answered had substantial Twitter buzz. One question that was asked on Twitter (on Tuesday) got answered in the White House blog on Thursday morning. More at Activism at the speed of skittles and the #p2 wiki, which mentions Get FISA Right.

    Twitter was also a good vehicle for getting votes in the competition itself. Why Tuesday? (a video supporting Rep. Shel Israel’s bill to move election day to a weekend) closed with a rush and finished #2, and it was clearly due to Twitter activism.

    Meanwhile, for those of you who prefer in-person actions, Twitter is being used by protestors at the G20 meetings in London, and by conservatives in the US to help organize the Tea Parties.

    So please consider joining Twitter and following Get FISA Right. This is likely to continue to be a very important part of our activism efforts.

    We’re at


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