Politics: A method behind Obama's sex ad madness?

Published by: Dan Calabrese on Friday October 26th, 2012

Dan Calabrese

By DAN CALABRESE - Is Lena Dunham setting a trap for Republicans?

Anyone can see from the reactions, here and elsewhere, that Obama's new dripping-with-sexual-innuendo ad is shaping up to be a complete disaster. How many videos on YouTube can cull these numbers?


5,474 dislikes

Not many. You step back and think about it, and you can hardly believe the president of the United States produced a campaign ad like this. When I was writing yesterday's piece, I had to keep checking - I'm talking six or seven times - to be sure I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing, that this was really an official Obama ad, that it was really on his official YouTube channel. It was. It was unbelievable. It was crude, wildly inappropriate and surely cringeworthy even for most of Obama's most ardent supporters - at least the serious ones.

Coming the same day we reported that Obama had called Romney a "bullshitter" in an on-the-record interview with Rolling Stone, were we seeing the next step in the complete and utter unraveling of Obama's political viability? If you're a Romney supporter, viewing it in horse race terms, it almost seemed too good to be true.

So was it?

As I watched it again this morning, and saw a few of the comments from Obama supporters, I started wondering if they're trying to set us up with a big rope-a-dope. Apparently Lena Dunham is a director or something. I'd never heard of her before yesterday, and nothing I saw yesterday made me want to learn more. But I guess she's done quite well in her short career - she's only 26 - and she's got a bit of a following. This seems to matter because the emphasis among Obama supporters is tending to be, "Lena Dunham is amazing!" and "I love Lena Dunham's sense of satire!"

To me, Lena Dunham is beside the point. The point is not what she did, but what Barack Obama did, which is to allow an ad to be produced that compared voting for him to having sex with him. That is beyond the pale for any political candidate, but especially for the president of the United States. Who starred in the ad is entirely irrlevant to me.

But I can see now what the Democrats' game might be. Inevitably, many of the comments and criticisms of the ad will be aimed directly at Ms. Dunham. I've seen reader comments on various sites that referred to her weight, called her a lesbian . . . you get the idea. They attacked her personally. This has the potential to set up the narrative the Democrats really want, which is: THESE HORRIBLE WOMAN-HATING REPUBLICANS ARE ATTACKING STRONG, TALENTED, WONDERFUL LENA DUNHAM!

If they can turn her into the left's Stacey Dash, but this time with the media on their side and fully engaged, they can succeed at drawing the right into a pissing match over women and female sexuality. Here's the ironclad rule about that topic: Every time Republicans let themselves get drawn into a public debate on this subject, Republicans lose. Every time. The left knows this, and relishes every opportunity to change the subject from Obama's craptastic economic record to more "war on women" nonsense.

Nothing else has worked. They haven't been able to stop Romney's momentum talking about Big Bird or any of the other distractions they've tried. The election is slipping away and they know it. So what can they do? Go big. Release the most outrageous ad in the history of presidential campaigns, then watch for the most outrageous reactions and use them to manufacture a "Republicans attack Lena Dunham" storyline.

Betcha Dunham is happy to play the damsel in distress in this tragi-comedy. You can easily envision rallies all across the country in which liberal women stand up for Dunham's "dignity" or whatever, and stage readings of the Vagina Monologues. Suddenly, no one remembers that this all came about because Obama released the most inappropriate campaign ad in history. It's all about how mean we're being to poor Lena.

Be careful. Obama's strategists are not the brightest bulbs in the lamp, but I have a hard time believing they would put out an ad this crazy without some sort of crazy-like-a-fox thinking behind it.