27 April 2012
The Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads group has released this commercial attacking Barack Obama for being "cool." Much of the footage comes from Obama's recent "slow jam the news" appearance on Jimmy Fallon, which charmed the Internet and infuriated Republicans in equal proportion.
Kevin Drum doesn't think it works, writing "this one makes Obama look a little too much like Will Smith, and I don't think the heartland really has anything against Will Smith." Greg Sargent sees a clear message: "This ad is basically a way of saying, See? We told you he was all slick and empty talk. You fell for it. Look what it got you."
As David Frum wrote in New York magazine last year, Republicans have a very different view of Obama than the rest of America:
Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system .... Outside the system, President Obama—whatever his policy errors—is a figure of imposing intellect and dignity. Within the system, he’s a pitiful nothing, unable to speak without a teleprompter, an affirmative-action phony doomed to inevitable defeat.
Notably, many of the attacks conservatives have been making against the President are based on their own understanding of him: the GOP primaries were rife with teleprompter jokes, for instance. The "cool" commercial follows in this vein; Republicans are convinced Obama is a preening fraud who coasts on the cultish devotion he cultivates among his supporters. Is the rest of America open to this interpretation? (Or, at least, would they agree with the American voter who told me recently that she disliked the Fallon appearance because it was undignified for a president to participate in a talk show sketch?)
Meanwhile, Jennifer Rubin has her own problems with the Obama image:
I found that irksome because I’m tired of the faux sophistication mixed with fake down-homeness (characterized by dropping “g’s”).
Possibly fair! But on that "dropping gs" thing: Is there a politician anywhere in America who could correctly pronounce gerunds and still get elected? This affectation is one as necessary as wearin' a flag pin or endin' a speech with "Gold Bless America." Over-enunciation is such a sure sign of snobbery that no one running for an office as esteemed as the presidency would dare indulge in it.