Ed Driscoll

The Morning After the Night Before

Having just declared Mr. Obama “The First Gay President,” Tina Brown’s Daily Beastweek is now angrily envisioning the GOP’s emotionally manipulative campaign “to tell women they shamelessly indulged in Obama in ’08:”

According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released this week, Romney is gaining on Obama’s favorability amongst women at a surprisingly rapid pace. The report indicates that the 19-point lead that the president enjoyed last month has diminished to a mere 7-point advantage in recent weeks.

What gives?

How about an emotionally manipulative, unapologetically condescending, Karl-Rove-concocted messaging strategy that preys on women’s weakness for instantly gratifying experiences coupled with their propensity for self-blame?

In effect, the right is framing Barack Obama as a guilty pleasure, saying to women—or, at the very least, implying—that the fairer sex indulged in his campaign with shameless abandon in 2008 and now they should be atoning in equal proportion.

It’s as if the president were a heedlessly devoured tub of triple-caramel-chunk cookie-dough ice cream that has left a bad taste in your mouth, not to mention a few extra inches on your waistline, and needs to be traded for the presidential equivalent of a rice cake (Romney).

Obama as a guilty pleasure? Where on earth would women have gotten that idea?

The other night I dreamt of Barack Obama. He was taking a shower right when I needed to get into the bathroom to shave my legs, and then he was being yelled at by my husband, Max, for smoking in the house. It was not clear whether Max was feeling protective of the president’s health or jealous because of the cigarette.

The other day a friend of mine confided that in the weeks leading up to the election, the Obamas’ apparent joy as a couple had made her just miserable. Their marriage looked so much happier than hers. Their life seemed so perfect. “I was at a place where I was tempted daily to throttle my husband,” she said. “This coincided with Michelle saying the most beautiful things about Barack. Each time I heard her speak about him I got tears in my eyes — because I felt so far away from that kind of bliss in my own life and perhaps even more, because I was so moved by her expressions of devotion to him. And unlike previous presidential couples, they are our age, have children the same age and (just imagine the stress of daily life on the campaign) by all accounts should have been fighting even more than we were.”

As we all know, in journalism, two anecdotes are just one short of a national trend. I figured that my friend and I couldn’t possibly be the only ones dreaming, brooding or otherwise obsessing about the Obamas. Were other people, I wondered, being possessed by our new first family?

I launched an e-mail inquiry. And learned that they were. Often, in strikingly similar ways.

Many women — not too surprisingly — were dreaming about sex with the president. In these dreams, the women replaced Michelle with greater or lesser guilt or, in the case of a 62-year-old woman in North Florida, whose dream was reported to me by her daughter, found a fully above-board solution: “Michelle had divorced Barack because he had become ‘too much of a star.’ He then married my mother, who was oh so proud to be the first lady,” the daughter wrote me.

“Sometimes a President Is Just a President,” Judith Warner, February 5th, 2009, the New York Times.