Sometimes, Democrats just make it so easy for Republicans to mock them. Case and point: "The Life of Julia," Barack Obama's idea of what a woman's life should look like. (You can find my take on it here.) This Democrat policy mascot-gone-bad has been the subject of conservative scorn all day and liberals are struggling to defend it. Over at The Atlantic, Adam Martin calls Obama's "Life of Julia" a piece of "low-hanging fruit" for Obama's opponents:
It has easy-to-manipulate Web graphics, an oversimplified narrative, and hits a political hot spot: Barack Obama's new campaign tool The Life of Julia was apparently built specifically to be co-opted by right wing meme-makers. [...]
Give the campaign credit for being well-designed and computer-savvy, but the thing is absolutely ripe for mocking.
Seriously, Democrats had to have seen this coming. Take an image from Julia's hypothetical life like... say, this one:
And replace it with reality... like this one from SooperMexican:
UNDER OBAMA: Julia realizes that if she sits in a tent and craps on cop cars while holding incoherent signs and annoying people who work harder than her at her part time job at Starbucks, Obama will pawn off her student debt on the taxpayer so she can study 16th century LGBT midget history.
And this one:
UNDER OBAMA: Julia graduates with a degree in 16th century LGBT midget studies and begins a not-so-very lucrative career in the "barista arts" industry. From behind the counter, she bitterly recounts stories of "Duchess Percy," the first albino transsexual to write about her life in 1650s Belgium.
But while Republicans are relentlessly mocking Julia, progressives are claiming victory. Why? Ana Marie Cox of the UK Guardian thinks Obama has the GOP right where he wants them: talking about women.
As silly as it is, even baiting the Republicans into mocking the Julia feint is a form of engaging them on the gender issue. Whether or not you believe Romney's policies are bad for women is an ideological issue, but the Obama campaign can point to the real consequences those policies have. The character is imaginary; the policies aren't.
It's true that Obama would much rather direct the 2012 campaign toward women, not only because so-called "women's issues" tend to be pretty divisive, but also because he's fishing for votes. But while Obama may think he has the upper hand by telling women how smart and capable they are, I think he's underestimating the GOP's allure for women.
The president might insist on basing his agenda on "The Feminine Mystique," but conservatives have their own brand of feminism to offer -- one based in freedom. Hadley Heath of the Independent Women's Forum writes:
Wake up, Mr. President! Women were well on their way to ruling the world before you ever took office. In fact, some of your programs directly undermine women's progress, by making our employment (and our health insurance!) more expensive.
Funny, the story of Julia's life doesn't mention her parents or grandparents, her husband (or partner?) or the father of her child (Zachary). It also fails to mention her church community, or the many local charitable organizations that could perform similarly helpful roles in her life. That's because Obama's vision of America cuts out the important institutions in civil society that allow people to be interdependent without relying on government force.
The battle over women is not one the Republican Party should shy away from. The Romney campaign should take note, add some estrogen to its ranks and make the real case for women: the government doesn't need to do us any special favors. We women are quite capable of taking care of ourselves, our families, our communities and our futures.