Were the Super Bowl ads really about Iraq?

Is there a policy at The New York Times to append mention of the Iraq war to as many stories as possible? Readers of the paper must often suspect as much. The thought arose again in reading the paper’s morning-after coverage of the Super Bowl commercials, under the headline: “Super Bowl Ads of Cartoonish Violence, Perhaps Reflecting Toll of War.” While duly noting that none of the spots “directly addressed Iraq,” the article suggested that the war “seemed to linger just below the surface of many of this year’s commercials.” Among the examples cited: a Snickers commercial that showed men tearing out clumps of chest hair, an E*Trade spot featuring a bank robbery, a Bud Light spot showing an extreme version of rock/paper/scissors and a lunar FedEx commercial in which a character is zapped by a meteor. The beauty of the everything-is-about-Iraq technique is that it’s infinitely flexible. We await restaurant reviews that detect allusions to Iraqi violence in the beating of an egg and home-decorating articles that associate end tables with efforts in Congress to end the war.

—Posted by Mark Dolliver