Celebrities were ubiquitous at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and on the campaign trail during the last election cycle. They were important surrogates for the president and his team, and played a leading role convincing disenchanted Americans everywhere he deserved to be re-elected. They were successful. But now it seems the White House is calling on them again for a completely different reason: to help President Obama sell his “signature” legislative achievement to an increasingly skeptical public. The Hill reports:
President Obama met Monday with celebrities who are helping him promote his signature healthcare law ahead of the October 1 launch of state insurance exchanges.
The president dropped by a White House meeting with singer Jennifer Hudson and actress Amy Poehler, as well as representatives for Oprah Winfrey, Alicia Keys, and Bon Jovi, according to CNN.
Other attendees included officials from the Grammy awards and the Funny or Die website, which is a brainchild of actor Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay.
"The President stopped by the meeting to engage artists who expressed an interest in helping to educate the public about the benefits of the health law," a White House official told CNN. "The reach of these national stars spreads beyond the beltway to fans of their television shows, movies, and music – and the power of these artists to speak through social media is especially critical."
The Washington Post reported that the meeting was led by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.
Remember, the administration tried this kind of transparently partisan maneuver with the National Football League, and it didn’t pan out so well. Oops. But because Hollywood liberals and performers make no attempt whatsoever to hide their political allegiances, this isn’t a bad strategy. Yes, Obamacare is pretty unpopular across the board and many physicians are nervous about what’s going to happen when it’s fully implemented, but if your only goal is to gin up support for a law that many (if not most) Americans dislike, this is the perfect way to do it.
Americans who don’t follow politics closely, I suspect, are more inclined to “support” Obamacare if their favorite celebrities do, even if certain provisions of the law are harmful to them. At the same time, the White House is facing a looming “train wreck,” and they’ll need all hands on deck to counteract all the bad press the law is already receiving. Who better to sell this expensive, convoluted and perhaps unworkable health care law to a wary public? Given our celebrity-obsessed popular culture, the president’s tactics seem like a no-brainer.
Plus, I'm sure the celebrities he's eliciting support from are all too eager to lead the charge.