Conservatives are in a tizzy over a seemingly innocuous Obamacare ad from Organizing for Action featuring a young man in pajamas.
He’s “a metrosexual hipster in a plaid onesie” scowled National Review’s Charles Cooke, a “vaguely androgynous, student-glasses-wearing, Williamsburg hipster.” He’s also “carefully ambi-racial.”
Pajama boy can’t even fight, Cooke’s colleague, Jim Geraghty, surmises. “My money is on the guy from Big Bang Theory once they throw down in a slap fight,” writes Geraghty, a grown man calling someone else a child as he imagines a fight between two fictional characters.
“An insufferable man-child,” writes Rich Lowry at Politico, who “might be glad to pay more for his health insurance to include maternity benefits he doesn’t need as a blow against gender stereotyping.” What kind of man thinks women shouldn’t have to pay more for health insurance because of their ladyparts anyway?
How could the sight of an earnest twenty something in pajamas drive so many dashing specimens of unassailable masculinity to complete panic? The paradox of our gender enforcers that they never sound more terrified than when addressing a person who doesn’t fit their standards. It’s an abject terror that masquerades as courage, relying on the reader not to know the difference. Pajama Boy is both a weak, effeminate symbol to be mocked, and the unstoppable 200-foot tall Kaiju wrecking their shining city on a hill.
Conservatives are calling Pajama Boy a symbol of Obama supporters’ un-American dependence on government, but at this point he’s more of a vehicle for conservatives to express their anxiety about losing wars, political and cultural. For them, Pajama Boy is yet another emblem of an increasingly non-white electorate, a young population that believes in a stronger welfare state, gender equality and LGBT rights. After six years, Obama’s approval is eroding, but most Americans still want an interventionist government to alleviate inequality. They may be frustrated with Obamacare implementation, but they still don’t want to repeal the law.
All of this has the right so worked up that they’re cyberbullying an advertisement. The problem with mocking a president who wears mom jeans is you’re still the folks who lost two elections to a guy who wears mom jeans. Those losses might have something to do with the fact that the conservative intelligentsia’s collective response to an ad trying to get Americans to purchase health insurance is to suggest that the model in the ad looks gay.
Though conservatives have concocted absurdly elaborate backstories for Pajama Boy that tickle their readers, the obvious implication of the ad is that he’s enjoying Christmas morning with his family. New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie responded to the ad by suggesting that morning would be better spent volunteering – a conservative dig at the supposed narcissism of young liberals without all the macho posturing.
In 2000, future Senator Al Franken challenged Lowry to a fistfight after Lowry “decried the way liberals and feminists are promoting the feminization of America, and called for a defense of traditional notions of masculinity.”
Lowry declined to fight Franken, who later said he was just kidding, but not before comparing him to Richard Simmons. That may be the thing our Internet tough guys like most about Pajama Boy, after years of losing to the “effete liberals” and the feminazis – he can’t possibly hit back.