Who Is the Man Who Imagined This Isn’t Creepy?

by Daniel Foster

One of my favorite moments in Mad Men (give me a pass, here, for violating the “no Mad Men after Memorial Day” rule of the blogosphere, because it’s from a few seasons ago) is when Japanophile Bert Cooper reveals his latest artistic acquisition, a paneled painting of a Geisha engaged in an intimate act with a Cephalopod, entitled “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife.” Cooper intimates to his creeped-out colleagues that the painting stirs thoughts about the combination of counterintuition, creativity, and monomania required to be an ad-man.

“It also, in some way, reminds me of our business,” Cooper says. “Who is that man who imagined her ecstasy?”

That’s sort of the thought I had when I saw the latest fundraising pitch from team Obama-Biden:

Who is the man who thought this was a good idea? Who is the man who thought it wasn’t both the height of presumption and shiver-inducingly gross? Really. Just because it’s “Your big day,” that’s no excuse not to support the president! After all, forsaking a “gravy bowl” (whatever that is) so that you can add infinitesimally to the billion-dollar heap of a man who has forsaken public matching funds is “a gift that we can all appreciate.”

I know this sort of pitch is probably aimed at the kind of people who have gluten-free, third-world-but-not-too-third-world destination weddings. But since I’m 28, I have a few friends getting married this summer, and they are actually, you know, counting on their wedding presents to start a future together, not to defray the cost of their tastefully-appropriated saris.

Nor is this the first time an Obama fundraising pitch has given me the heebie-jeebies in the last month week twenty-four hours. There is also this utterly bizarre letter “from” the First Lady:

For the first 10 years of our marriage, Barack and I lived in an apartment in my hometown of Chicago.

The winters there can be pretty harsh, but no matter how snowy or icy it got, Barack would head out into the cold — shovel in hand — to dig my car out before I went to work.

In all our years of marriage, he’s always looked out for me. Now, I see that same commitment every day to you and to this country.

The only way we’ll win this election is if we can rely on one another like that, all the way to November 6th.

You should know that your recent donation means a lot to both of us.

Barack is working hard, but he can’t do this alone — he needs your help.

Yes, yes, fundraising is a distasteful business in any event, but does the Obama campaign have to make it emetic as well? I mean, this disturbs on two levels — the I don’t want the government to “look out for me” the way a husband looks out for his wife level, and the even if I wanted the government to look out for me the way a husband looks out for his wife, I still want the president to select a less awkward way of expressing that sentiment level. I’d assumed that even folks who weren’t disturbed on the first level would be disturbed on the second.

But that’s not right, is it? After all, somebody wrote these things and they were signed-off on and distributed. And — here’s a truly disturbing thought — they’ll probably work. The Rightward chatter I’m hearing focuses on these pitches as reflective of the narcissism of the president. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama’d never laid eyes on them. Besides, I’d be less concerned if the president thought of himself this way than I am by the fact that his staffers — and financial enablers — do.

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