Monday, October 29, 2012


"Your first time shouldn't be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy. It should be with a guy with beautiful … somebody who really cares about and understands women."

Lena Dunham
Obama campaign commercial

It's amusing to me, the outrage that has greeted the Lena Dunham commercial for the re–election of Barack Obama.

It's amusing because those who are outraged act as if this was unexpected. But how could it be unexpected when the Obama campaign has spent most of its time and money this election cycle pursuing irrelevant arguments — the most recent examples being the president's indignation over Big Bird, binders and bayonets — when there are so many more urgent problems in this country?

Like, for example, the war on women. With so much attention being paid to contraceptives and whether taxpayers should pay for the availability of contraceptive devices for women, with the Obama campaign shamelessly running advertisements that focus on women's "lady parts" as the only factor in a woman's voting decision, it can't surprise anyone when the campaign unveils, in the waning days of that campaign, an advertisement that compares voting to losing one's virginity.

It doesn't surprise me. I understand what's going on. Obama's support among women is slipping, and he wants to prop up that part of the winning coalition from 2008.

But, historically speaking, that was always going to be a tough coalition to keep together.

In a vain attempt to prevent the inevitable, the Lena Dunham commercial is designed to appeal not just to young women but young people in general. They're all part of that 2008 coalition — but, while women's participation rate has been consistent over the years, participation of the young has been spotty.

Until the Obama campaign of 2008, young people (generally described as those between 18 and 29) didn't have a strong record when it came to voting. It went way up in 2008 — much to the astonishment of longtime political observers — but no less than NPR and the Los Angeles Times report a decline in interest among young voters.

That surge of young voters who pushed Obama over the top four years ago? It ain't gonna happen again. But the Obama campaign insists that lightning can strike twice in the same place — you just have to help it along a little.

Presidents are notoriously slow to recognize when they have lost the consent of the governed — so I don't know how much input Obama has in all this, especially with that nasty storm churning along the East Coast and forcing him to do his job.

But I gather that Nolan Finley of the Detroit News may be on to something when he opines, "[T]he president's campaign is now driven by desperation. ... Vulgar is part of the repertoire; Obama called Romney a 'bullsh—er' in an interview. Very presidential."

Actually, that language is mild compared to the language some of Obama's surrogates have been using. Still, I have trouble imagining any president in my lifetime — other than, perhaps, Richard Nixon — using an expletive to describe his political opponent in an interview setting.

It is beneath the dignity of the office — if not the man who occupies it.

But apparently it isn't beneath the dignity of this president's surrogates.

Like Samuel L. Jackson, for example, who recently implored the audience, in an Obama commercial, to "Wake the f*** up!"

I understand why some people find Dunham's commercial offensive. It encourages women to vote for the candidate who makes them tingle between their legs above all else.

"Before, I was a girl," says Dunham — who, in the interest of full disclosure, is 26 but sounds like a teenager — of that first vote experience. "Now I was a woman."

Nearly 100 years ago, the 19th Amendment gave women — not girls — the right to vote. It is a responsibility that should be taken seriously.

Perhaps someday science will give us effective means to test people — both men and women — for emotional and psychological (not just chronological) maturity before they can be registered and allowed to vote.

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