COMMENTARY | Politico is reporting that the Obama re-election campaign is persisting in a strange gambit to try to make Mitt Romney into a real world version of "Mad Men's" Don Draper. For some reason they think people will react badly to this.
To be sure, even the Obama people, as klutzy as they have been recently, recognizes that unlike Draper, Romney, a straight-laced Mormon, does not smoke, drink, or chase women. For some reason, though, Obama's re-election campaign thinks that Mitt Draper would be seen as quaint and old fashioned and thus not to fit to replace the hip, handsome, and cool dude who currently occupies the Oval Office.
The Obama people may be careful about getting what they wish for. A few years ago, Alternet noted that Don Draper is a sex symbol with whom many women wanted to sleep with. Part of the allure is, no doubt, the bad boy appeal. Draper has been a heel where it comes to women. But if one doubts that even that kind of sex appeal is an asset for a male politician, one need only ask Bill Clinton or the shade of John F. Kennedy.
Of course, it is hard to imagine Romney as being any kind of bad boy, even in his youth. But what about Draper's relationship with women he does not want to sleep with? There is, in fact, one character in "Mad Men" who fits that description.
Peggy Olson, the drab but sharp and ambitious woman character, starts as a secretary at the ad agency, but quickly begins to climb up the corporate ladder, becoming the first female copywriter employed by the firm. She is encouraged in this endeavor by Draper, who serves as her mentor and -- as in the flashback in the hospital after Peggy gave birth out of wedlock -- as personal confidant and supporter. Sometimes the relationship can get ugly, as Draper occasionally snaps at her. But that too is a kind of back-handed encouragement.
This side of Draper is not the sort of thing the Obama re-election campaign will want to focus on in its attempts to make Romney into a complicated 1960s era ad man. But that side exists and if Romney is Draper, it must exist in the Republican candidate as well.