Friday, May 4, 2012

The Obama Campaign's Julia

What were they thinking? What was the crack Obama re-election campaign thinking when they launched their slideshow about “The Life of Julia”?

How is it possible that highly skilled political operatives could have descended into such ham-handed manipulation?

Have their minds been infiltrated and colonized by Republican gremlins? Or were they just trying to provide fodder for the conservative commentariat?

If the latter, they have succeeded beyond their dreams.

James Taranto describes the unfolding story of Julia:

Julia, who has no face, is depicted at various ages from 3 through 67, enjoying the benefits of various Obama-backed welfare-state programs.

As a toddler, she's in a head-start program. Skip ahead to 17, and she's enrolled at a Race to the Top high school. Her 20s are very active: She gets surgery and free birth control through ObamaCare regulations, files a lawsuit under the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and pays off her student loans at a low interest rate. We get updates at age 31, 37 and 42--and then the narrative skips ahead 23 years when she enrolls in Medicare. Two years later, she's on Social Security, at which point she can die at any time.

In its last frame Julia is retiring comfortably on her Social Security payments. Apparently, they are so generous that she does not need to worry about running out of money.

David  Harsanyi comments succinctly:

Finally, Julia retires. “After years of contributing to Social Security, she receives monthly benefits that help her retire comfortably, without worrying that she'll run out of savings...

This allows her to volunteer at a community garden.”

If you think Social Security benefits allow you to live your retirement without worry, you deserve Barack Obama.

Just in case you missed it, this slide contains a sophisticated literary reference. Do you remember the famous literary character whose final word of wisdom is: “We must cultivate our garden.”

Of course, I am thinking of Voltaire’s mindless optimist, Candide. It makes sense to evoke the memory of Candide. Who but the embodiment of naivete would believe what the Obama campaign is saying?

If Julia is as naïvely optimistic as the Obama campaign would like her to be, her optimism is very likely to be drug-induced.

The slideshow does not say it, but given her social isolation, Julia is undoubtedly suffering from depression. And she is surely being treated with anti-depressants. She is a modern drugged-out Candide.

John Podhoretz explains the ad’s message:

The slide show basically says that women need government programs from cradle to grave if they want to have a productive life — to get an education, stay healthy, have children, see those children educated and find meaningful work themselves “throughout their lives.”
David Harsanyi adds his own interpretation:  

What we are left with is a celebration of a how a woman can live her entire life by leaning on government intervention, dependency and other people's money rather than her own initiative or hard work. It is, I'd say, implicitly un-American, in the sense that it celebrates a mindset we have -- outwardly, at least -- shunned.

It is also a mindset that women should find offensively patronizing. 

Rich Lowry emphasizes that the ad conveniently ignores the question of who is going to pay for it all.

In his words:

Julia’s central relationship is to the state. It is her educator, banker, health-care provider, venture capitalist, and retirement fund. And she is, fundamentally, a taker. Every benefit she gets is cut-rate or free. She apparently doesn’t worry about paying taxes. It doesn’t enter her mind that the programs supporting her might add to the debt or might have unintended consequences. She has no moral qualms about forcing others to pay for her contraception, and her sense of patriotic duty is limited to getting as much government help as she can.

Lowry is right to identify Julia as a taker, not a giver. If the government has cured her of wanting to give, it is not surprising that she has no friends, no colleagues, and no face.

Becoming a ward of Nanny State, she has been stripped of her dignity. Suffering from chronic entitleitis, she has become the kind of person that no one will want as a friend.

She may need free birth control but the slide show never mentions a lover, a relationship, or, God forbid, a husband. One can only conclude that she enjoys the occasional meaningless, anonymous sexual encounter.

When we ask how exactly the unmarried, friendless Julia got pregnant, we can guess that she bought some sperm from an anonymous donor at a government-run sperm bank.

Of perhaps, as Podhoretz suggested, she was a modern example of parthenogenesis. 

Think about it. St. Augustine said that the Virgin Mary conceived through her ear. In the modern cult called feminism women have been induced to believe that they can get pregnant by deciding to do so.

The dogma of choice suggests that women should control their reproductive biology and decide when they want to conceive. Yet, how many women have heard this message and concluded that they need but decide to conceive, and then, presto, they will become pregnant.

Perhaps this is one reason why so many women have been ignoring the basic laws of biology.

In the world according to Obama women become wards of the state. They have no need for fathers to support them or husbands to provide for them or men to make babies with them.

Julia lives in a socialist utopia. Unfortunately, she has been stripped of her initiative, her dignity, her social being, and her identity. She has been reduced to a cog in the Obama re-election machine.

Taranto sagely noted that Julia has no face. She is always presented in profile, so even if she had a face, she wouldn’t look you the eye. Of course, she does not have a last name. She has been disembarrassed of her patronym.

As you know, Chinese thinkers grant the greatest importance to “face.” Saving face is a vital psychological need. It’s so important that I wrote a book about it.

When the Chinese talk about face they are talking about the public presentation of self. Face is the way you present yourself in public. People know who you are because they identify your face.

Imagine what it would be if you went through your day without having anyone recognize you, without having anyone know your name, without anyone acknowledging your existence. How long before you would think that you had gotten lost in the twilight zone?

Having face means that you belong to the community. Losing face means that you have either lost status within the community or have been expelled from it.

That is Julia’s status, or her lack of status. She has been transformed into what the Obama campaign wants her to become, a parasite that depends entirely on government support and whose most significant relationships are with the government agencies who are trying to buy her vote.

By the way, what do you call a woman who has been stripped of her name and her dignity, and who allows herself to be sold to the highest bidder?


n.n said...

Since it's voluntary, she would be aptly described as a prostitute. However, once a consensus is formed, the progression becomes involuntary. She should reconsider her choices. There are better, viable compromises, which are capable of preserving individual dignity.

low interest rate

What, exactly, has she learned? The problem has been a progressive principal less than interest rates. This is an unavoidable side-effect of ignoring reality. The latter has been "effectively" managed through redistribution and accumulation of debt.

Not only does Julia not respect her own dignity, but she does not respect the dignity of others. Also, as she defers procreation to later in life, she increases risk to herself, and increases the likelihood of physical and mental impairments suffered by her child.

Julia seems to suffer from interminable narcissism coupled with fanciful misconceptions of reality. It's a nice place to visit, but it is unsustainable in practice.

Dennis said...

I am amazed at how quickly this has been made into a joke at Obama's expense. I understand that the reason Julia has no face is that she survived a partial birth abortion in Chicago fully sanctioned by then Senator Obama. With Obama's help "feminized" schools put Zack on Ritalin because he moved around too much. Through out his time in these schools he was constantly derided for being a boy and told that he and all men were responsible for every evil.
One has to pity the poor lad because by some stroke of luck he makes it into college. He winds up meeting a young woman and they have "slut" sex. Not too long after he is charged with rape, has no right to representation and is convicted with no other proof than the woman's word even though this would not stand up it court he is branded for life.
So now he is booted out of college and cannot find a job so he decides to become a small business owner and finds that with all of the government regulations at both the city, state and federal level that it is almost impossible.
He does prevail at quite an expense to himself and has a nice shop that is just getting by at the margin. Imagine his surprise when his shop is destroyed by the Democrat inspired Occupy movement pushed by Obama. The movement did give him a small chance to save his business if he sucumbed to the Chicago style tactics of extortion of Obama. Sadly he cannot.
He is now a broken man because he can get no help from his family because he does not know who his father is and his mother Julia is so beholden, think slave, to the government that she could not help if she wanted.
Zach and Julia have a nice talk in which she tells him to go to HELL because the government has ruined her life and just what does he really think she owes to him, the bastard that he is.
Ah, the trials and tribulations of being owned by the government are a plenty. Thank you Obama.

I have used parts an article that someone else wrote.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

The following comment was posted by Anna Shane. For reasons that I do not understand, it was unposted by Blogger.

For your interest, I reprint it:

She doesn't have a face because she's not the same Julia, everything is today, I guess if they'd given her different names it might have been clearer? Or shown a bunch of girls and women? I mean, she's not The Woman (who we know does not exist) but different females at different stages in life.

The little girl must have qualified for head start, which works great, measurably, in that more kids finish school and get jobs if they qualify for head start and actually get it, so in the end she pays herself, cause she ends up contributing her own taxes. We used to call that a level playing field. We're all supposed to have an equal education, and that means helping kids who didn't ask to be born into poor families with few resources. I guess you think the free lunch program for poor hungry kids is also offensive to women, some of whom are poor moms? (do you know any women?)

Her parents are already paying for young adult Julia's insurance, they don't get her part free, the only difference is that she can be on their group insurance instead of needing to buy her own individually. We all pay more for insurance than we use, partly because we pay for the uninsured getting crappy care.

Her school isn't awful, even though it's public, that's bad?

She gets a guaranteed loan to start a business, but she still pays it back and with interest and she ends up creating some jobs that also contribute to taxes.

She's paid the same as a man is paid for the same work? We're supposed to think that's socialism, and she doesn't pay more for her insurance just for being a girl? My goodness, and now she gets birth control covered when Viagra has always been covered?

Social security isn't a lot, but it's kept a lot of seniors eating and that's better than not eating.

I wonder who does not need government programs? By this logic lets end public schools? oh right, no one is lucky - the wealthy did it all on their ownsomes. Just ask Romney's adult sons about that?

I don't get how this ad is bad. Without a middle class we won't be able to support an ultra rich class - I mean who would they sell their crap to? Women are actually under assault, by the misogynists who want us barefoot and knocked up. What do you think about submitting to a huge vaginal probe with a camera on the end? Oh, right, women have to take it and pay for it - no taxes for required nasty gross violating vaginal probes?

My mindset is this ad is just fine. There was a time not long ago when women could not vote, and closer in time didn't get loans for business, cause banks didn't think we could make it in business. I am all for a level playing field, even if it does lead to bigger incomes used to buy useless crap.

anna shane said...

Thanks Stuart, I don't know how to de-post, maybe cause I first didn't copy the words correctly?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I am not sure what happened, Anna, because a few other posts have recently been dropped by Blogger... mysteriously.

Since a copy of what you posted shows up in my gmail, I am happy to repost.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you, Anna Shane, for your thoughtful response to my post. Whether or not the ad is bad, the truth is that it has provoked a very loud chorus of ridicule. In other words, as a political ad, it is not working as it is supposed to... though I suppose that that could change.

I think it is important that Julia is presented without a face and without a name. And that she is essentially presented as being completely alone and detached from other people.

She is suffering from a form of social anomie.

She is too highly individuated for her own good.

The points that the critics have been making are on the order that Julia is being diminished and demeaned because she is taken to be someone who cannot take an initiative, but who needs government support every step of the way.

She seems not to be able to count on other individuals, because she is counting on government.

As for the other points, a recent government study questioned the value of Head Start. I am not against it; no one is against it. But it seems not to be quite the miracle worker that everyone thinks it is.

BTW, Viagra is not covered by medicare. And if birth control should be covered entirely, why is there copay for Penicillin?

As for the equal pay act, there is no such thing as equal work... the act is merely a way for trial lawyers and bureaucrats to gain greater control over the labor market. Unfortunately, when that happens, as it happens in blue states like California and in countries like Spain and France, that leads to increased unemployment.

I have been posting about Joel Kotkin's analysis of the state of business and employment in California, among other reasons, because he is a Democrat.

Taxing the rich is a great slogan, but the rich simply do not have enough money to pay for everything that the politicians promise. In the states that have the highest taxes on the rich they have the greatest income disparity and the highest unemployment rates.

There are lots of reasons why insurance is so expensive... but how about starting with less mandated coverage, malpractice reform, and the ability to compete across state lines... thus a free market in health insurance.

The same policy in New York costs about three times as much as it does in Connecticut.

Dennis said...

Thanks Stuart and Anna. One could write a book on how this is wrong.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks too Dennis... though I would be curious to know who wrote the parts that inspired you.

If the question is: who is going to pay for all the government is going to give to Julia, perhaps the answer lies in the stories you tell about the conditions of men in today's society.

I am amazed at how easily this has become a running joke... not a sign of an effective political ad.

anna said...

Viagra is covered by most private insurance, and birth control isn't usually necessary if you're over 65. Covering birth control pays for itself, women who don't get pregnant and/or who take birth control for medical reasons have fewer medical needs. That's what I think of as the moral thing trumping what's smart. If it saves insurance companies money (and it does) why not cover it and get more women using it?

I think you're right about the ad not being effective, I doubt they'll keep running this one. They're trying to reach people who benefit from government and whose benefits end up benefiting our tax base.

It seems to be a difference between those who want individuals to take responsibility for their own welfare and those who think we're in this thing together and we're all better off if we help each other out. I'd settle for providing help that saves all of us money. Which is clearly health care. Women without insurance who don't get pre-natal care have kids that cost taxpayers way lots, cradle to grave. A little pre-natal care goes a long way.

I'd like universal pre-school, that would pay for itself. Drug diversion costs less than prisons.

Obama doesn't use the moral argument - outside of fairness that is, he uses the economic one.

Dennis said...

I had read a number of articles that morning and just don't remember. I think it was someone with the "pajama media." I tend to start with Instapundit and Lucianne blogs.
I have to admit that the argument that I have to pay for your birth control or I will have a lot of fatherless children that have to be supported by the taxpayers seems to me like extortion. Its for the "children" gets a little stale especially when it almost never benefits them and just adds to the debt they will have to pay.
I also find the use of using the example that Viagra is covered, which is another example of government maybe being in areas they should not, not to be very convincing. At what point does this argument lead to the taxpayer has to pay for your existence from birth to the grave?
Obama's economic argument only works in a situation where government controls other people actions and lives through taking from one to benefit someone who has the wherewithal to take responsibility for their own actions. When does it become my responsibility to cover your desire to not take responsibilities and to understand actions have consequences?
I would posit that if more people took responsibility we would have far fewer, less need for, providing a helping hand. I would also bet that people on their own would provide the requisite funds to those who truly need it with a lot few layers to pay for getting it done. We ask charities how much of what we give gets to those who need it. Why do we not ask government how much gets to those in need? The idea that government needs to do it show a big disrespect for the humanity of others who given the chance will step up. It is also a neat way of avoid personal responsibility for one's fellow man. Demonstrated by the fact that the Left always give less to charities.
Anna, Please do not try to extort me with such a childish argument. You really need to extrapolate where this all leads.
I would be much more welcoming to universal pre-school if the United States were not 25th in math. It is a fact that we are doing a terrible job of educating people than we ever have and we spend far more money cheating the students we have attending these schools.
More money has only produce a substandard product in almost everything the government does
Human nature is such that it does not respect that which it receives for free. It only respects that which it works for and can feel the success of personal accomplishment.
NOTE: I probably give more money, personally help more people and am involved with more that most statists.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I agree with Dennis that if Viagra is covered by private insurance it should not be. If I recall correctly, it is not covered by Medicare.

It is also worth pointing out, as Dennis does, that our educational system is doing a pretty bad job of educating children.

American children cannot compete with their peers from many other countries. Rather than extol the greatness of government controlled education, people should be asking why the school system is so bad.

A recent government report suggested that there are no real benefits to Head Start. Of course, being against Head Start makes you sound like a lout, but still, it's effectiveness is subject to considerable dispute.

I agree with Anna that we do best when we consider that we are all in this together. No one should dispute the point. Yet, the Obama campaign ad, which, as Anna says, is not working very well, does not call for community effort; it calls for government effort.

And since government employees are themselves a special interest group, heavily unionized, and heavily contributing to the Democratic party, we should at least entertain some doubts about solutions that mostly enrich them.