It's a good rule of thumb that if a word or phrase is only used by political consultants then its value to the English language is near zero. One such word is "optics," a term of art for how a bit of news will be perceived by the public at large, which is only used by people who bill by the hour.
Now, it just so happens that Barack Obama has a lot of those people on payroll, which is why they should be telling the president that the "optics" of this are extraordinarily bad, particularly in light of Friday's dismal jobs report. From Nikki Schwab and Jenny Rogers at the Washington Examiner:
Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour's name popped up in inboxes Sunday as she penned the latest in celebrity fundraising pleas for the Obama campaign. "I take deadlines seriously," she wrote, sounding very much like her "The Devil Wears Prada"-inspired character. "I'm writing to remind you that you're facing one tomorrow: your last chance to join President Obama, the first lady, and me for dinner at Sarah Jessica Parker's home in New York on June 14th." Wintour also filmed a video to promote the dinner and raffle, which was released by the campaign Friday, the same day all the sour news came in on the economic front.
Ah, yes. Nothing says "I feel your pain" like a pink cosmopolitan summit with the doyenne of Park Avenue solipsism. The irony here couldn't be cut with a steak knife. President Obama attacks Mitt Romney as the guy who likes to fire people while supping with the woman who has made generations of doe-eyed Manhattan emigrants want to fire themselves (seriously, how many people get major motion pictures made about how terrible they are as bosses?). And why not throw in Sarah Jessica Parker for good measure? She was, after all, the star of a show that proved years ago that the "War on Women" is real -- and that it's an internecine affair.
This is what political decline looks like. In four years, President Obama has gone from being the candidate who would bring the red states and the blue states together to being the one most likely to unite the Upper East Side of Manhattan and the Westside of Los Angeles. If members of the Romney campaign have their antennae up, they'll use this to great effect -- perhaps as part of a pitch for "government for the rest of us."