Salena Zito has an interesting take on the President’s interesting means of wielding power:
Presidents also wield power by influencing those who deeply admire, strongly identify with or highly respect them. This is referent power, which focuses on ability to exploit others’ trust.
Celebrities — with no formal power and little expertise — wield influence through referent power; some people feel so close to and trustful of celebrities that they act upon their perceptions of what a celebrity wants them to do.
“To be clear, referent power does not work through order, command or threat,” Nichols explained. “Instead, it works through suggestion and the creativity of the fawning admirer.”
We don’t know yet how involved the White House was in today’s scandals. Yet, at a minimum, they suggest a government — from the State Department to the CIA, the military leadership, the IRS and Justice — filled with sycophants under the sway of Obama’s referent power.
Read the whole thing, of course, but this is exactly it. Reagan might have been the first President to use the power of celebrity effectively. Clinton, I thought, perfected it. But Obama has brought it to an entirely new level.
Appear on The View, non-political magazine covers, the outlandish parties. I’d denigrate him for it, except that it’s just so damn effective. And until the GOP re-learns how to play this game, they’ll probably be shut out of the White House.