If you watch the show “Girls,” you know writer Lena Dunham is an expert at creating painfully awkward but still compelling scenes. This ad she cut for the Obama campaign is along those lines:

After watching the ad, Foreign Policy wonders whether the concept was borrowed from a similar commercial run by Vladimir Putin’s presidential campaign 

Is Obama’s ad a reflection of his own Putin-like personality cult? It’s hard to imagine any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, cutting a video like this. Not just because it’s risque, but because it could easily be seen as sexist, patronizing, and offensive.

Of course, Putin’s ad wasn’t designed to win an election (he has much more reliable ways of doing that), but to build his legend as a hyper-masculine patriarch. Obama’s ad is the reverse. It’s aimed at getting young people to vote, not to make people think young women like Dunham have romantic feelings about him.

But was the chance of this video going viral and convincing a few Millenials to vote really worth the risk of being mocked for copying a sleazy Russian autocrat? On Twitter, Phil Klein wondered whether there was a secondary motivation:

@melissatweets so far, it’s mocking. But all they need is one statement that goes to far, and they’ll run with it, and media will follow

— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) October 26, 2012

Who knows? The Obama campaign could benefit from a big, fake media controversy to reenergize its “war on women” theme, especially since the Mourdock scandal appears to be winding down.

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