The Santorum/Apple Ad: Update

By James Fallows

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/02/the-santorum-apple-ad-update/253763/