January 16, 2013

The NRA noted today that a controversial ad it has released in time for the president’s gun control announcement is not about his daughters.

Nope. “Whoever thinks the ad is about President Obama’s daughters are missing the point completely or they’re trying to change the subject,” spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said in a statement to NBC News.

What would have given you that idea?

Here, for anyone who has managed to avoid it, is the ad.

Here are some other things it is not about, based on the same logic:

Guns.

Schools.

Elitism.

President Obama.

(I assume that, based on the context in which it is used, “is not about,” means “mentions and features prominently.”) I’m sure the NRA would happily tell me that Moby Dick is not about whales. It is about redemption, or something. It mentions whales. But they are not what it is really about. They just happen to be there, prominently, sometimes on the cover, depending on your edition.

I hope the NRA keeps making more ads, if only because I have begun to nurse the creeping hope that this is all absurdist performance art and not a serious campaign aimed at actual people, and an ad with a similar premise would go a long way to splitting that difference.

“Does the president think his children are more interesting than yours?” the next ad will say. “Then why is he skeptical about inviting your children to have dinner with his family every night as he asks them about their days, while his own kids get to eat at the White House nightly? President Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. But he is just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of attention.”

“Does the president think his house is more important than yours?” the ad will say. “Then why is he skeptical about selling calendars offering views of your house at different seasons? His house is on a lot of calendars like that. President Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. But he is just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of calendars.”

“Does the president think his children are more talented than yours?” the ad will say. “Then why is he skeptical about attending your children’s field hockey games, while he sat through the entire production of “Pippin” put on by Sasha’s middle school? President Obama demands the wealthy pay their share of taxes. But he is just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of going to mediocre performances of’Pippin.’”

Or, if you want to be a little closer to the idea, “Does the president think that he is more important than you?” the ad will say. “Then why is he skeptical about letting you exercise the power of the veto, while he does so whenever he likes?” “Does the president think that he is more important than you? Then why is he skeptical about letting you occupy the highest office in the land, with all the perquisites thereof, while he does it every day?”

The shortest answer to these questions is that he (and his family) are in a different position than ours because we elected him, and since 1917 there have been laws saying that we as Americans agree that the president and his family are entitled to a higher level of protection. But the NRA ad is so far from trying to get a serious answer that — well, why bother?

There are few things that hit so in the gut as the allegation that someone else thinks his children are more important than yours. But surely we’re smarter than that.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.