What “The Life of Julia” really tells us
posted at 11:56 am on May 4, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
The Obama campaign has gone into the storybook business. Its first illustrated work of fiction is titled “The Life of Julia.”The title character is a faceless female (let’s call her “acomposite”) whose life is shepherded from cradle to grave by the Obama nanny state.
As in Frank Capra’s Christmastime classic It’s a Wonderful Life, Team Obama artfully weaves in a second “what-if” thread that purports to show how Julia’s life would be different (read: worse) if Mitt Romney were elected president. Perhaps significantly, in this bleaker thread the text is surprinted on a dark background.
So should Obama expect a Newbery Medal to place on his mantelpiece alongside his Nobel Prize? Well, maybe he shouldn’t be holding his breath. First, “The Life of Julia,” as told by the White House, leaves out a good bit of detail about some of Julia’s most formative years as a member of the workforce. There is, for example, a 23-year gap between the ages of 42 and 65, during which time Julia presumably becomes a member of the 1% and is considered an enemy of the state.
But apart from that, the “what-if” strand too often focuses on what could happen, not what would happen, if Romney were president. For example, at the age of 3, the earliest age shown, the reader is told:
Under President Obama Julia is enrolled in a Head Start program to help get her ready for school. Because of steps President Obama has taken to improve programs like this one, Julia joins thousands of students across the country who will start kindergarten ready to learn and succeed.
What horrors await Julia in an America stewarded by Mitt Romney?
The Romney/Ryan budget could cut programs like Head Start by 20%, meaning the program would offer 200,000 fewer slots per year. [Emphasis added]
Considering Head Start’s many false starts, which have prompted no less a diehard liberal than TIME’s Joe Klein to call for an end to the program, maybe that sentence should begin, “The Romney/Ryan budget should cut programs like Head Start.” (Notice, by the way, how cleverly the writers work in the popular fictional conceit that Mitt Romney is a co-author of Paul Ryan’s budget.)
But back to Julia. At age 22, the reader learns that Julia needs surgery. (Let’s hope she really needs surgery and not that she has diabetes and some conniving doctor has elected to cut off her legs to make a fast buck.) Under ObamaCare—which Team Obama evidently believes will not be struck down by the Supreme Court—Julia will remain covered by her parents’ policy (whether they like it or not).
What about Ebenezer Romney? He has announced he will repeal the law. This theme is reprised a number of times throughout Julia’s life. Each time a subtheme is the presumption that once this monstrosity of a law is overturned that health care reform will be permanently dead with it.
Some of the claims made against Romney in “The Life of Julia” are so heavily distorted to support a pro-Obama narrative that their inclusion seems bizarre. After telling the reader that Julia at age 23 will be able to demand equal pay for equal work thanks to Obama’s signing into law of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the writers state that Mitt Romney “has refused to say whether he would have vetoed or signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.” Actually, the Romney campaign has stated in no uncertain terms that it supports equal pay for women. Its refusal to commit to this specific piece of legislation, which was defeated by Republicans in 2008 on the grounds that it invites frivolous lawsuits, is another matter entirely. But when you’re writing fiction, the truth hardly matters.
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