At many White House events, whoever the president is, there appear what we in the White House press corps call “the sob stories.”
These are the people who are supposedly adversely affected by the status quo, which the president hopes to change with his brilliant new initiative. Often the sob stories will speak, detailing how they incurred some profound tragedy from which only the president – with the cooperation of Congress – can rescue them.
The sob stories, whether they know it or not, are being manipulated to advance the president’s agenda. They may fully understand and support the president’s plans, or they may not. But they are being used as props for the benefit of the big guy.
That’s why rarely are the sob stories children. Because manipulating children for a politician’s gain is generally held to be a bad thing to do.
But not by this White House.
At Wednesday’s White House gun violence event, during which President Obama will unveil his gun control proposals, the props will be children who have written to Obama about their reactions to the shootings in Newtown.
Nothing tugs at the heartstrings more than children. Nothing could make Obama’s case more effectively than a crowd of innocent kids, hoping to avoid the fate of their unlucky peers in Connecticut.
It’s a disgrace to manipulate these children. But for a White House that portrays Republicans as heartless villains and that tore to shreds a good man named Mitt Romney, little is off limits.
The ends justify the means. Because when you are so convinced of your moral and intellectual superiority – of the supreme rightness of your position – as this White House is, whatever you have to do to get your way is worth it.