The Santorum/Apple Ad: Update

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It looks as if Rick Santorum will come up short tonight, despite the panache of his Apple-themed ad. Readers have written in to emend and expand on my earlier dispatch on that ad.

1) Several people have pointed out another Apple progenitor of Santorum's "Rebellion" spot: not so much the (hugely successful) "1984" ad, from the 1984 Superbowl, but instead the (widely panned) "Lemmings" ad from the Superbowl a year later. Here's the Lemmings original, below, to compare with Santorum's version.




2) Many, many people have written in astonishment that the Santorum ad contains only white faces -- "not even an Asian!" as one person wryly noted. Some other time, we'll look at the larger point about the GOP base that this ad illustrates. Over time the party is willfully shouldering aside:
  -- young people generally ("Same-sex marriage? Never!" "Climate change? A big fraud!")
  -- Latinos ("build a fence!")
  -- Asians ("yellow girl")
  -- blacks (former editor of the Harvard Law Review is the "food stamp president")
  -- gays (see above)
  -- women generally (drawing the rhetorical line not at abortion, a genuine first-order moral question, but contraception -- seemingly settled law and social practice since 1965)
  -- the "creative class" ("college is for snobs!")

Given the gerrymandered nature of our national legislative system, this approach -- a base of older, white, largely Southern males -- can lead to outsized power in the Senate in the long run. But it's not a formula for winning the presidency. The GOP discovered this at the statewide level with its problems in California since the Pete Wilson "Prop 187" anti-immigrant era. This is the point of Jonathan Chait's excellent analysis in New York magazine about the Republicans' embrace of demographic decline.

3) If you haven't watched to the end of the Santorum ad -- conveniently re-embedded below -- you might not have seen the touching episode starting at time 1:22, when a man strips off his sweater to reveal... well, see it for yourself. And about the shot starting at 1:30, a reader writes:

Is that a Down's Syndrome child that Rick Santorum is holding at the very end of the ad? If so, that strikes me as an absolutely fascinating aspect of contemporary conservative identity politics.


[Update: As several readers have pointed out, Santorum appears to be holding his own daughter Bella.] On that point, about conservative-vs-liberal compassion for the disabled, please take this opportunity to read the extraordinarily eloquent personal dispatches by Harold Pollack and Emily Rapp.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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