Green Room

Of course: Obama to announce new gun policies surrounded by children

posted at 4:08 pm on January 15, 2013 by

Political theater at its most unseemly:

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced this afternoon that President Obama will unveil a “concrete package” of gun control proposals including assault weapons bans, high capacity ammunition magazine bans, and closing loopholes on background checks. Carney said that the president will be joined by Vice President Joe Biden as well as children who wrote to the president after the Newtown shootings. “They will be joined by children around the country expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety, along with their parents,” Carney confirmed.

Let’s stipulate that the practice of using kids as props has a sordid bipartisan history, although the Left is far more likely to advance emotional arguments “for the children.”  Rather than griping about this ploy, conservatives should learn from it.  More than ever, optics and perception are the coin of the realm in American politics — more so than merit or empirical argument.  Like it or not, choreographing evocative photo-ops is politics 101 in today’s media climate.  Sure, the Right’s attempts at agitprop are almost always held to a higher standard of skepticism and scrutiny by the press, but that’s no excuse for conservatives to throw up their hands in unilateral surrender.  Since the Newtown horror, Democrats have held a series of press conferences featuring instantly-sympathetic victims of gun violence.  The opposing side’s response often comes in the form of a television appearance from someone like NRA president David Keene.  The visual gap is striking.  As I write this, the president’s team is coordinating a memorable backdrop of sweet-looking children to help close an emotional sale.  Why don’t pro-gun members of Congress or activist organizations answer with a press conference comprised exclusively of women who have used legally-owned firearms to fend off violent criminals?  Whining about the Left’s tactics accomplishes nothing.  Figuring out efficacious methods of emulating them — without abandoning certain standards of decency — is much more productive.

Parting thought: In spite of the media cushion they enjoy, Democrats occasionally overreach and end up turning the public’s collective stomach.  Will tomorrow’s presidential performance overplay the heartstrings card, or will the bulk of complaints come from partisan conservatives?

UPDATE – AP mentioned this story in his Morgan v. Shapiro post on the homepage.

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