Not long ago President Obama lit what Mark Steyn could have referred to as his latest exploding cigar. By now, you’re probably familiar with "Julia", the composite woman (not to be confused with the president’s composite girlfriends) who we learn lives a wonderful life with the comfort of cradle to grave assistance from the government, and how terrible her life would be as a result of a Romney presidency. Like manna from Heaven the conservatives had a field day with this one. The Romney campaign immediately fired off some tweets in response, we saw the Twittersphere light up with "#Im Not Julia" themed tweets, and of course, we saw a fair amount of ridicule in conservative publications and blogs.
We saw too may timeline parodies to list – PJ Media did a good job with their take. National Review’s Rich Lowry pointed out how condescending and insulting toward women the campaign is. Over at Flopping Aces Warren Beatty (the blogger, not the actor) submitted a guest post pointing out the dangers of becoming a society of Julias, which included a great comment below this story from FA contributor Skookum, who made an observation about the name choice that got a chuckle from every George Orwell fan who scrolled down to the comments.
When the Julia story broke I was ready to throw in my two cents, but as my faithful readers know I don’t write on a topic that someone who’s a better writer than me has already written. I was thinking of putting together another parody timeline that was completely empty showing how Julia’s life would have been had her mother chosen to terminate her with a government funded abortion, but too many other timeline mockups are already out there.
The above mentioned Warren Beatty stole a lot of my thunder, but thankfully for me he stopped short of a very disturbing conclusion in the motivation behind this ad campaign. First, I have two sidebars to help illustrate my point.
In a recent episode of Castle, Nathan Fillion’s character (Yes, THAT Nathan Fillion for all of the Firefly geeks out there) has a pretty close relationship with his soon to be college aged student daughter. One of their bonding activities is chasing each other around their home playing laser tag. In this episode the daughter didn’t want to play, saying ""I think it’s time to holster the laser guns and be adults". This gave her middle aged father a moment of painful introspection after getting a lesson on maturity from his teenaged daughter.
Another example goes back to an ad campaign for men’s underwear from the early 90’s. In my weekly subscription to Sports Illustrated one of these ads would appear just below the reader letters and showed men doing some low-key activities while wearing the company’s underwear. One that stuck with me was one that featured a 20-something looking guy in his briefs and undershirt looking very happy while carrying a little boy up on his shoulders with the boy holding a toy airplane over his head. The main ad text read something like, "Remember when you were young and couldn’t wait to grow up and be a man? How’s it going?" That ad really made me take a hard look at myself and my 20-something "Straight laced workaholic in a low paying job by day, bar hopping idiot by night" life style. I guess that the ad didn’t impact me too much, as it would take me almost another 20 years to get my act together enough to get married to a woman like Sister Babe.
So what is the conclusion that I’m trying to make? Team Obama put in time and effort to put together the entire Julia campaign. Whenever anyone is advertising or selling any point, there is one key factor that goes into the process before the first word is typed or pen meets paper.
"Will this appeal to my target audience?" The message of Julia is that one should expect to spend one’s entire life dependent on others to some degree at every stage of life.
At no point does she become that adult and take full responsibility for Julia. And if someone else is paying your bills, that gives them control over your life, in Julia’s case at every step. Personally, I’ve never met any kids who talked about how much they love having their parents and teachers tell them what to do, any elderly men or women eagerly awaiting the day they go into a nursing home or any former inmates reminiscing about the simplicity of prison life.
The most disturbing element of Julia is who the president thinks we are. Apparently the administration thinks that we have lost our sense of individuality, of ambition, and yes, responsibility. At every stage of our lives we shouldn’t just hope for a helping hand, we should expect and are entitled to that helping hand. It can be paid for by one of the various bogeymen that leftists love to cite in big businesses or the wealthy. Unfortunately when you sit down and do the math, neither one can ever produce enough to pay for a nation of Julias. At some point someone has to be the individual or group of individuals who produce more than they take. Thomas Sowell recently wrote a great article how politicians can can legislate dependency to keep their hold on their jobs even if they are ultimately killing their constituency.
Do we want to go down the path of Greece or France? How about the model that Detroit set for riches to rags, or California’s inevitable day of reckoning? As my previous post on paying off our national debt shows, we have some serious problems that won’t start getting better until we start taking them seriously. We don’t have to watch our country drive off a cliff. But for that to happen we have to choose, both as a nation and as individuals to not let that happen. But if we truly have become the nation of Julias that President Obama thinks we are then we will not survive as a society. As much as it pains me to say this, if he is right I’m not sure that we deserve to.
Cross Posted at Brother Bob’s Blog