Updated: July 16, 2012 6:22AM
You’ve seen the TV commercial.
A little bearded guy in a blue sleeper and cap, holding a big bag of golden dust, tiptoes into a bedroom. The bum-bum-bumming of “Mr. Sandman” burbles happily as the little guy trips on a slipper and dumps his dream dust over a sleeping man, who is rewarded with what is supposed to be every man’s perfect dream — powering a car around a racetrack, checker-flagged by a high-cheekboned Amazonian mega-model babe, while Motley Crue crunches out a headbanger anthem and pyrotechnics explode.
I know you’ve seen it because I’ve seen it a dozen times, if not three dozen times — it must be in heavy NBA championship rotation.
So here’s my first question: What kind of car is in the commercial?
I know it’s white, and smallish. If you dangled me by my heels out a window, I’d guess it was a Honda of some sort.
And my second question — what does this have to do with presidential politics?
It must, because what are our two presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney doing? They sure aren’t giving big public speeches detailing a vision for the future. They’re pinballing around the country, hoovering up money at private dinners.
And what is all that money they’re pinballing around the country hoovering up at private dinners going to be used for?
Oh, sure, some of the campaign cash goes for campaign buttons and pizza and social networking experts. But the lion’s share — experts estimate 75 percent — goes to advertising, and the bulk of that is television.
It must work, right? They’re too smart to waste all that money — several billion dollars will be spent on the 2012 presidential election. Maybe I’m a freakish anomaly. I’ve never seen an auto commercial in my life that made me think, “Geez, I want to be driving THAT!!!” When the woman in the “Sandman” ad leers at the man behind the wheel, I don’t think, “Wow, that super-attractive gal seems to be really impressed with that tiny white car.” Rather, I sneer and think, “Is there a guy in the world who believes that?”
Political ads are worse — all the slow-motion black-and-white shots of the pol you want the viewer to hate, the grim chords o’ doom, the stark newspaper headlines, the fraudulent Harry and Louise actors-as-regular-people fretting at the breakfast table. “Concentration camps? My word, Emma, could Barack Hussain Obama really be planning to put decent heterosexual churchgoing folks like us in concentration camps?”
Don’t get me wrong, I find commercials entertaining. My younger son wrangles the TV remote, because he knows how to work it, and DVRs through the ads. I’ve actually asked him to stop, so I could see a few. That gal with the flag, wow. Maybe I just don’t like TV, so commercials don’t work their magic on me. Now newspaper ads — well, that’s an entirely different story. I see one of those, and I think, “Huzzah! Suits 20/20 is having a sale; I should slide by Suits 20/20 and buy more Suits 20/20 suits to go with the high-quality, low-price Suits 20/20 suits I already wear and enjoy.”
Seriously. I really do think that. Of course, I’m a newspaperman.
Anyway, the bottom line is this. In the pending presidential election, we face one of the clearest, starkest choices that’s been offered the American public in a long time: the trying-to-be-inclusive, let’s-all-hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbaya, Democratic liberal vision of Obama, who has been shambling toward his goals — health care for people who don’t have it, a government that keeps business from poisoning us, civil rights for all Americans, even queers; or the stuff-the-rich-and-the-crumbs-will-fall-off-the-table-and-feed-you-too, let’s back-up-faith-with-a-little-law plutocratic vision of Mitt Romney.
Is there anyone confused about that? And who will TV commercials sway?
We’ll find out. Thanks to the Citizens United decision, we’re going to see more money spent on more commercials than ever before — it might have the inadvertent effect of driving people back to reading. And while I like to think that there aren’t enough admen of genius in the world to make 51 percent of Americans believe that a dressage-riding, Thurston Howell III multimillionaire like Mitt Romney is one of them, with their best interests at heart, TV gets people to eat at Appleby’s and drive Kia Optimas, so anything’s possible. The Optima is the white car, I discovered on YouTube, where the Sandman ad — the babe is Brazilian supermodel and Victoria’s Secret Angel Adriana Lima, by the way — has been viewed 3.3 million times.
Kia is the fastest growing car company, its sales up 30 percent over last year. Maybe Obama needs to place a call to Adriana Lima.