CNHI News Service

Opinion

February 21, 2013

What a Super Bowl ad tells us about ourselves

Editor's Note: If you're not a weekly subscriber to Marta Mossburg's column, you can publish this one if you notify her at marta@martamossburg.com

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I wonder what Mitt Romney thought when he saw the Dodge Ram commercial during the Super Bowl. It’s the one narrated by the late broadcaster Paul Harvey featuring still shots of farmers that everyone is still talking about because it is so powerful. Here are some other adjectives for the paean to an almost lost way of American life: humbling, gritty and most of all, human.

My guess is that Mr. Romney wished he had hired the Richards Group, which produced “So God made a farmer,” to work for him because the company said more about who America is and what it should be in two minutes than Mr. Romney did in years of campaigning for president. Its overwhelming popularity verifies that Americans still believe in and admire self-reliance and hard work, qualities Mr. Romney championed but that never felt believable in him -- by design.

His opponent Barack Obama played a large part in that, defining him early on as rich and out of touch. But Mr. Romney and his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, cemented Mr. Obama’s narrative by acting like robots who kept trying to convince the American people about math equations when what they wanted to know first was who they were.

And when Mr. Romney was caught being “real,” he alienated people, as with his comments about the infamous “47 percent” who don’t contribute to society.

Americans are neither business turnaround artists like Mr. Romney nor wannabe accountants who analyze Social Security reports into the wee hours like Mr. Ryan. We frequently make rash and economically irrational decisions to the chagrin of people who see the country as a giant spreadsheet, but we can be convinced to do the right thing when you earn our trust.

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