Let’s Be Honest

In the midst of my daily constitutional through the virtual halls of Sporcle, a peculiar banner ad caught my attention.

Like most free websites, Sporcle relies on high traffic and banner ads to create revenue.  The banner ads range widely in content.  Advertisers include everything from Pottery Barn to World of Warcraft to Nike to Lumosity.  I had to log on to Sporcle as I wrote this, hitting “refresh” several times in order to generate the list I just rattled off.  That’s how little attention I normally pay to these ads.  They are white noise at best.

There is also sometimes political content, but even that usually doesn’t warrant more than a glance.  Certainly not a notice.  Until I saw this:

Before I continue, I want to make it clear that I think that the fact that President Obama has been in a committed relationship with his wife (and mother of his children) for the past two decades is laudable.  There’s a good argument that this is especially important for Obama-as-role-model, particularly since an alarming percentage of African-American males aren’t in the picture when the children they father are growing up.  But, isn’t a campaign offering potential supporters the opportunity to sign an online anniversary card just a bit creepy?

The obsession over the “cult of personality” wasn’t even my primary thought when I saw this.  Nor was the uncomfortable familiarity people apparently need to feel, even with the occupant of the highest office in the land[1].  No, the main idea that went through my mind was, “No one outside of a few far-right-wing voices will say a peep about this . . . but what if the Romney campaign did something similar?”

At a minimum, the following would happen:

1.  Gawker would write a scathing, mocking, but articulate piece portraying Romney as an amoral (as opposed to immoral), out-of-touch aristocrat.

2. The Huffington Post would generate a critical article of its own, not as intelligent or well-written as the Gawker piece, but also including less profanity and a misleading headline, such as “Romney Touts Family Values.”  This would be the link your left-leaning Facebook friends would be posting on their walls all week.

3. Chris Matthews would tab this “crypto-racism,” saying that the implication is that “this is how we white people honor marriage, unlike the rest of you.”

4. Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update would juxtapose the wedding anniversary ad with a joke skewering the GOP stance on gay marriage.

5. CNN would run a story on the ad in which the word “gaffe” was used a minimum of three times, even if the ad itself wasn’t referred to as such.

6. There would be a limited defense of Romney from the right, but those defenses would seem (or be portrayed as) purely partisan, and would furthermore be dismissed and/or drowned out by numbers one through five above (and more) via another round of commentary and “reporting.”

Again, this is not a negative statement about President Obama’s campaign.  This is just an observation of the more . . . shall we say . . . lenient reaction to things like this from most of the media and the blogosphere.  I would humbly suggest the intensity and character of the scrutiny applied to Romney’s words and deeds are slightly different than that applied to his opponent.

Food for thought.

Enjoy your respective weekends, no matter which candidate (or media outlets) you happen to support.

____

[1] Note the lack of a tie, the rolled-up sleeves, the ice cream sundae, etc.  The notion that the president needs to be a “regular guy,” as opposed to merely being able to communicate effectively with “regular” Americans, is strange to me.  But that seems to be where we are. Certainly, that played a major role in the Bush presidency, and, to some extent, Clinton’s.  The last “non-regular” guy to be elected President was George H. W. Bush.  That was 24 years ago.  I fear that a critical mass of the electorate are so insecure, or so narcissistic, that they need the president to be “one of them.”  I prefer to elect my betters.
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