In college courses in applied logic, it’s called “testimonial.” It’s a propaganda technique where you invoke real and fictional endorsements of an idea or product, usually via personal narratives. The Obama administration has used the strategy on virtually every issue — from Obamacare to job growth to (presumably) lawn care — to persuade the American people of the rightness of its ideas.
Its latest appeal backed by testimonial is on the need for tighter gun control legislation. Powerline’s John Hinderaker reports that Obama’s is using his “permanent campaign organization, Organizing For Action, to solicit stories about ‘gun violence.’” Hinderaker cites a couple of examples, including this gem from someone who identifies himself as “Keith K.”:
As a high school teacher, my students ask me why their lives are not as important as an NRA money [sic]. “that’s [sic] just the way it is” is a terrible answer to have to give kids. so [sic] we can make a rational decision about guns.
Hinderaker is skeptical that Keith K. is really a school teacher, which suggests naïveté on the blogger’s part.
But abstracting away from the issue of guns, another question that arises is why a man so often lauded by the left as a great communicator is so heavily invested in dredging up warm bodies to testify on behalf of his policies.
One possible answer is that propaganda sells on the left, and that’s ultimately the only audience Obama cares about reaching. Consider this revealing critique of candidate Mitt Romney by National Journal’s Charlie Cook in July 2012:
The strategic decision by the Romney campaign not to define him personally — not to inoculate him from inevitable attacks — seems a perverse one. Given his campaign’s ample financial resources, the decision not to run biographical or testimonial ads, in effect to do nothing to establish him as a three-dimensional person, has left him open to the inevitable attacks for his work at Bain Capital, on outsourcing, and on his investments. [Emphasis added]
The view from the left then is that having some anonymous shlub stand before a camera and spout off about what a great guy you are is more valuable (or at least more persuasive) than demonstrating your bona fides. No wonder Obama handily won a second term.