The Tearful Dictator
While announcing his new slate of gun control measures designed to pave the way for a national gun registration regime, President Obama welled up in a press conference on Tuesday. He’d spent nearly half an hour berating Republicans, American voters and the National Rifle Association for their supposed intransigence in failing to embrace his executive actions. Finally, he reached up to his eyes, rubbed at them, and as tears wet his cheeks, he stated, “Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad. … We need voters who want safer gun laws, and who are disappointed in leaders who stand in their way, to remember come election time.”
The American people, you see, have to change. They have to change because they are uncaring. And we know they are uncaring because the most powerful man on the planet weeps when he thinks of the little children.
But you don’t, do you?
We’ve now reached the apex of the Feelings Age. It no longer matter what good policy looks like. It no longer matters what the Constitution says. All that matters is that our politicians care about people like us. During the 2012 election, Mitt Romney won a wide variety of exit polls regarding policy, from leadership skill to values. But he lost the election because Obama clocked him 81 percent to 18 percent on the crucial issue of “cares about people like me.”
And now Obama has come to collect.
But he can’t do it without the tears. That’s because the tears grant him the patina of vulnerability. No one fears the dictator who shows his human side. We view those who violate our rights as nefarious members of an evil cabal, lurking in the night while cackling. We don’t view them as highly attuned, sensitive people — after all, the logic goes, if they were that sensitive, they’d stop before violating the rights of others.
Which is why crying is such an effective tactic for those who would violate your rights. Crying on behalf of victims puts you on the side of the angels, and your opponents on the side of the demons. And we don’t tend to care what happens to demons. We’re too busy rooting for the angels.
That’s why President Obama followed up his lachrymose performance with a call to action against all of his enemies. It’s why he talked at length about shredding the Second Amendment in favor of “other rights,” as though my right to own a gun endangers your right to pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. It’s why the media immediately leapt to cover Obama’s waterworks instead of his policies — because the story is Obama’s emotional heroism and essential decency, not his absolute failure to find any real solution to gun violence.
So look for more Obama emotional blackmail. And look for more stories about Obama’s emotional journey from the compliant press, which prints narratives about empathetic heroes — even if those heroes are busy violating other people’s rights at every turn.