After the whole War on Women business erupted and Romney repeatedly proved himself to have no idea what women want—except for his wife, Ann, of course, on whom he is the world's foremost expert—the Republicans decided to buckle down and try to appeal to women on economic issues; since even women understand they need money to buy food and stuff. However, Karl Rove and friends have taken the bizarre approach of back-handedly shaming women for falling for the "guilty pleasure" of Obama's smooth talking ways and then trying to lure us into the safe arms of a Republican man. Oh, yes, that ought to work wonderfully.
In trying to puzzle out why Mitt Romney is doing better with women these days, Judith Grey writes about this icky strategy in the Daily Beast. She gives it as evidence of something that's working, since a new poll found that support for Romney among women has improved. We already discovered that one of these polls was total bullshit, but this new poll does show that Obama only leads by 7 points among women now, whereas in April he led by 19 points. Ho hum. These things happen, and the anti-Romney frenzy was bound to die down a bit after the total birth control shitstorm that erupted and subsequently made all conservatives look anti-woman. Anyway, it appears that the shift that has taken place is largely due married women changing their minds. So all the single ladies are still indulging in imaginary nights spent with the President.
Even if there has been a slight improvement in Romney's image with women, that doesn't necessarily mean this tacky GOP ad campaign is responsible. In fact, if you were the kind of person inclined to think that women were smart people with functioning brains, which would mean you were not in Republican leadership, you might recognize that trying to make women feel guilty about falling for a bad boy is not necessarily the most effective way to persuade them to vote FOR your guy. Anyway, let's take a look at what Karl Rove and his pals at his super PAC, Crossroads GPS, have concocted on Romney's behalf.
The guilty pleasure silliness began with an ad called "Wake Up," which was released last summer. It shows a pretty lady laying awake in bed—alone!—stressing out about the state of the economy and her family. She says, "I supported President Obama because he spoke so beautifully." She wanders around her dark house, looking in the mirror, as if searching her soul to understand why she would do something so terrible. Wait, did her husband leave her because she had mind-sex with the president? Yeah, well, that's what you get for being seduced by a smooth-talker, lady. Of course, her support of Obama backfired bigtime because, they claim, he broke all of his promises—as all men do, except for family men, of course. Nevermind that the claims she makes about Obama are either distortions of the truth or flat out lies, the main point is that she feels guilty for getting tangled up with such an economy-destroying lothario. She realizes she's endangered her family's future, and she knows she has to make it right by supporting Mittens this time around. They might as well have ended with the tagline, "Repent with Romney."
This same theme has been woven through a lot of Romney's messaging of late. There are two other ads which aren't geared so much toward the ladies but still harp on the "we fell for a liar" theme. One by Rove & Co. called "Obama's promise" shows all of his broken promises breaking an iPad screen. (Subtle!) Another ad, released by the Republican National Committee, drones on about all the economic lies he supposedly fed us with his beautiful voice. Blah blah blah.
But this week they really outdid themselves with a spot called "Basketball" which is being aired in 10 swing states. Again, courtesy of Rove's evil genius, it shows a pretty, young-ish looking woman watching her children play basketball. Oh how she used to love watching them play ball, she says, until things changed… Dun dun dun. Right before our eyes she changes from a youthful mom to a much older woman with a sad, sunken face and greying hair.
Meanwhile, the children playing basketball were maybe 10; after "the change," aka Obama's four-year reign of terror, the kids have inexplicably grown to be old enough to have graduated from college. Boy, I guess a lot really has happened since 2008—we even seem to have mastered time travel. Anyway, again there is no dad in the picture, which can probably be explained by this woman also giving the lovely standard line: "I supported President Obama because he spoke so beautifully. He promised change, but things changed for the worse." You ought to be ashamed of yourself, you harpy! Now your kids can't get jobs, you've lost your sex appeal, and our country is ruined. You and your dirty mind-vagina, always indulging in fantasies about men in dad jeans with silky voices and tempting promises. You're the reason America is going down the tubes.
As Judith Grey points out in her piece,
Effectively, the Republicans have taken the "before" and "after" photo paradigm—the hallmark of aspirational marketing to women—and inverted it. It's the antithesis of hope in a bottle. And what woman would want to buy that a second time?
That's true, yes, assuming women fall for the ham-handed shaming message of these ads, which seems incredibly unlikely. Yes, women may care about the economy, in addition to more women-specific issues. But we also aren't idiots who can be tricked into voting for someone who doesn't represent our interests, a lesson which the Republicans might want to figure out.
Even if you ended up disagreeing with many of Obama's presidential actions, chances are you don't feel guilty for indulging in a vote for his beautiful voice (and, you know, his ideas). So you won't appreciate being made to feel ashamed. And if you didn't vote for Obama in 2008, there's nothing in these ads that would actively convince you to vote for Romney, which is ultimately a much more powerful way to woo voters than talking shit about the other guy. A lesson that we learned from a certain 2008 presidential candidate with a beautiful voice. (No, I am not talking about Sarah Palin.)
Grey also points out early on in her piece that these ads paint Obama as something to indulge in:
It's as if the president were a heedlessly devoured tub of triple-caramel-chunk cookie-dough ice cream that has left a bad taste in your mouth, not to mention a few extra inches on your waistline, and needs to be traded for the presidential equivalent of a rice cake (Romney).
Well then, let these ridiculous ads run far and wide because we have nothing to worry about. Everyone knows that if faced between the option of buying another pint of silky smooth ice cream or a crispy, flavorless rice cake, not very many people go for the rice cake. It seems like they forgot that there's more than just the guilty part in guilty pleasure. There's also the pesky pleasure part that, duh, keeps people coming back for more.
GOP to Women: Obama's Your Guilty Pleasure [Daily Beast]