Stewart congratulates President “Costanza” on his next-day comeback and declares the most damning part of the ad, “I’m President Obama and I approved this ad.” “WHY?” Stewart asks, pleading with the campaign to “let it go.” The poet laureate of my generation and writer of “My Humps,” Wil.i.am, even comes in for some uncustomary ridicule for his “half-assed remix” of “Sesame Street’s” theme song at an Obama rally.
I’m echoing others, here, but it bears repeating. What’s striking about this ad is not that it’s uncharacteristically shallow. It’s not. It’s a hallmark of the Obama campaign to fan any flimsy story line or one-off gaffe to distract from the economy or the debt or Benghazi. What’s different now is that it’s being treated as shallow. A couple months ago, this ad would have been hailed as a savvy, emotional play for the very young voters and moms he must energize. Wil.i.am’s mere presence would have been a signal of Obama’s ability to harness the power of the creative class to really bring the politics of budget priorities home for the average voter. “Is there more to the Big Bird flap than meets the eye?” newscasters would have asked, happily producing PPP’s inane polling of the bird’s approval numbers— spoiler: they’re very high—and reproducing every hipster parent’s YouTube production of toddlers Hudson and Cash whimpering for their favorite fowl.
Now, this very phony story line looks like a failure to recognize his very real failure in the debate (not to mention Benghazi, which adds to the perception, even if it’s not linked to Obama’s political woes as often as Denver).
But hey, at least we got some laughs out of the ad.