In a discussion about the Obama campaign’s cartoon vision of “what women want” – the faceless, neuter-race cartoon that has become known as “Julia” – Democratic strategist and MSNBC contributor Karen Finney went a step too far in saying that a version of Julia’s life under policies advocated by Mitt Romney and Congressional Republicans would end in her 30s… because she would be dead… get it? And, with that, Finney exposed the overreach of the Julia campaign and why it squanders the advantage that Democrats won among female swing voters in the early part of this year.
MSNBC’s panel on Friday’s Martin Bashir Live were pondering just how offensive the Republican primary process was to non-Republicans when Finney exposed her true feelings:
“I would love to see the DNC or somebody follow up with a ‘Here’s what life under the Romney-[Paul] Ryan plan would be like for Julia,’” said Finney. “She’d be in the grave by her mid-30s I can almost assure you.”
“Yeah, it would be falling off the edge of the cliff like on The Price is Right,” added Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson as Bashir went to break.
This level of hyperbole is why it strikes me as though the Obama administration and their allies in the media are intent on squandering the advantages among women that they gained early in 2012.
Independents and swing voters do not believe that Romney and Republicans would enact policies that will kill women any more than they believe Obama heads a world-wide socialist conspiracy. Full Stop.
The ‘Julia’ campaign is strikingly simplistic. It reduces the complex lives of women to a series of events that she has little control over and, but for the government, would be steamrolled by. The campaign lends itself to mockery – and conservatives have done just that. It cements the impression that the President’s party supports a “cradle-to-grave” mega-state that is all that stands between American women and the ravages of the free market – personified by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
Julia is a cartoon women living in unrealistic circumstances – without any support structure but the government. That caricature appeals only to those women who were already inclined to vote Democrat in November. It won no new voters and, I’d be willing to venture, turned off a few fence-sitters.
Women were turned onto the Obama campaign in January and February because the prospect of overzealous Republicans legislating what they did in their personal lives and how they did it. The idea of having a state government mandate under what circumstance they could receive birth control or whether they were forced to have an ultrasound prior to an abortion procedure (which, many partisans failed to mention, is a medical necessity and is performed by most abortion doctors in order to determine the stage of pregnancy even in arch-conservative states like New Jersey) was a turnoff.
But what turned female voters off to Republicans in January is what Democrats embrace today: namely, an invasive government intervention – with the best of intentions – directly into personal lives. Women do not want to be paternalistically given a hand up to attend the college of their choice, support their child or retire in comfort. They want the freedom to purse their abilities to their fullest, and thereby achieve the prosperity that they know in their hearts is their due. That’s not to say that the government does not have a place in their lives, but the heavy-handed big brotherism that is “The Life of Julia” is no paradise – it’s a dystopia.
And lest you think, “oh, another man telling women what they think,” take a peek at this post on CafeMom that praises this “out of the box” ad and it’s message – then read the comments. It is a heartening exercise for Republicans that fear the gender gap will sink them in November.
Comments like Finney’s lay the sentiment behind the Democrat’s electoral strategy bare. They know that women do not want to be given a hand up, they want obstacles out of their way – any obstacle: be it male, female, discriminatory, preferential, paternalistic, private sector or public. All of the above. When the Finneys of the world go out of their way to invoke what Democrats circa 2004 referred to derisively as “the politics of fear,” that overreach becomes a threat. A familiar light goes off in the heads of discerning thinkers that says “this person is selling me something.”
I bet the intended audience for Julia is not buying. This campaign squandered a hard fought advantage for Democrats among women. Thank the lord, for Democrats sake, its May and not October.
Watch Finney’s comments on MSNBC below:
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