Monday, October 01, 2012

Does President Obama really make babies cry?

By Richard K. Barry

I hadn't really thought a lot about it, but President Obama is being attacked by babies in this election. Or, more accurately stated, babies are being used in a lot of Romney and pro-Romney super-PAC ads to appeal to women voters with the message that Barack Obama is ruining things for their kids.

As The New York Times put it on Sunday, "Attack ads have come to this: President Obama makes babies cry."

In one ad, a mother frets that "Now we're facing another recession. Things are getting worse under Obama." Another has this unforgettable line: "Dear daughter, your share of Obama's debt is over $50,000, and it grows every day." And yet another presents a montage of baby images while a female announcer asks, "Is her future getting better? Obama has added more debt than the first 41 presidents combined. Is America going forward or backward?”

Both sides caution that it's important not to go overboard with the gloom and doom, but Republicans seem sure that the way to bridge the gap with women voters is to talk about the economy in terms of what it means for their kids.

Maybe these ads will work but, as I never tire of saying, only if voters, women in this case, make the necessary connection between the state of the economy and Obama's leadership. Republican strategist have, from day one, assumed something they needed to prove.

On that, Darrell Hammond, the terrific SNL alumnus, who does great political impersonations, was on CNN this weekend and made an interesting point about comedy. People will laugh at your joke if they already accept the premise. In politics, it works the same way: People will be moved by your message if they already think it has credibility.

Here are a few of those Republican ads with babies in them. They all seem over-the-top to me. 

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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  • That's a good point about accepting the premise. This seems to be something conservatives are missing: they can't see that the hyperbolic attacks don't work on most people because they are overwhelmed by how well they work on themselves.

    Stephanie Kelton tweeted, "How many US grandchildren will China demand in repayment of debt? If you or someone you know thinks this is a good question, seek help now." That gets to the heart of it.

    By Anonymous Frankly Curious, at 4:26 PM  

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