House Speaker John Boehner uses Taylor Swift GIFs to criticize President Obama’s tuition plan
John Boehner, current Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has enlisted a new, more concrete way to relay the Republican Party’s tenets to us, the American people. And that way, naturally, is through Taylor Swift GIFs.
John Boehner, current Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has enlisted a new, more concrete way to relay the Republican Party's tenets to us, the American people. And that way, naturally, is through Taylor Swift GIFs.
Late last week, Boehner's official government site, Speaker.gov, featured "12 Taylor Swift GIFs for you," which rounds up a dozen Taylor Swift GIFs designed to give a little "oomph" to Republican criticisms of President Obama's plans to institute a free community college/trade school program for qualified students. And, as you may note, it took two Communications Directors — Caleb Smith and Mike Ricci — to accomplish Boehner's task.
Via the Speaker.gov post:
"We are always looking for fun, effective ways to communicate with the American people about President Obama's failed policies, and our better solutions," Michael Steel, Rep. Boehner's spokesman, said in recent a statement. "As Speaker Boehner says, 'You have to reach people where they are.'"
Beyond the GIFs, the post also contains tidbits of info in pun form, including "60 billion dollars is a lot of money…you can't just shake it off" and "There's no blank space in the taxpayers' checkbook." As a result, it more or less mimics the user-written Buzzfeed GIF posts that have cropped up in recent years.
In that sense, the Taylor Swift posts serves as the site's latest attempt to modernize its communications in order to win over a portion of the nation's younger voters who historically have been unenthused with the Republican Party platform.
The final product is a somewhat inexact argument that strongly implies that the economic brunt of President Obama's tuition plan would rest only on the shoulders of the average American taxpayer. Unfortunately, it attempted to do that in, you know, Taylor Swift GIFs, so it mostly just looks like pandering.
It should be noted, however, that this type of condescension occurs on both sides of the aisle — not just the Republican camp. Take, for example, the White House's promo video for "Big Block of Cheese Day," which features actors from The West Wing, and was posted on the same day as the Taylor Swift post:
As ThinkProgress scribe Jessica Goldstein writes, the video above is a particularly bad attempt at "reviving pop culture that has not been current in a decade," and therefore not nearly as up-to-date as Boehner's Taylor Swift post. Still, it is proof-positive that when you attempt to mix elements of pop culture not intended for political consumption with our increasingly dysfunctional political system, the results can't possibly be good.
There is, of course, a time and a place for posts like those. But, as is increasingly becoming obvious, that place is not a website that ends in ".gov."