When President Obama appeared on the “Tonight Show With Jay Leno” in March, one of his myriad and unprecedented appearances by a U.S. president, he said that Washington was a “little bit like ‘American Idol’ … where everybody’s got an opinion.” Hmmm. Maybe we need an Idol Czar.
The president is banking on “American Idol” status to save his presidency much in the same way he rose to the office; not because of a single accomplishment – he has none except for saddling generations with debt and creating or saving the number of people in the unemployment line – but because of speeches. I am sure Bernie Madoff is suffering from teleprompter envy.
Obama is like a child TV star who rose to fame because he eloquently delivered a cute catchphrase (“Hope and Change” as opposed to “Hey, Mikey! He likes it!”), but now finds himself an adolescent in a grown-up world and faced with the task of actually manning up to the responsibilities of a new job for which he applied. Yet, instead of stepping up to the plate, Obama is relying merely on his celebrity status to coast through the sometimes ceremonial and often dire decisions a chief executive must make.
Since January, Obama has turned the 24-hour news cycle into Obama TV. When Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., joked that Obama has appeared on every network except the Food Network, heads must have rolled in the White House for missing that gig. Not to worry, First Lady Michelle is going to appear on “Iron Chef” America in January.
After all, Baramichelle is still very much key to the Obama brand. Their date night in New York City had the paparazzi salivating over the extravagant evening footed by taxpayers suffering in a deep recession (let them eat crème brûlée). The coos by the liberal Stepford wife media were gushing.
Yet, I wonder if Obama’s 15 months of fame is finally tapering off. His job-approval ratings are at new lows, as well as approval for his handling of just about every issue concerning Americans. Der Spiegel ripped his speech on Afghanistan saying “Obama’s magic no longer works” and his trip to China looked less Kissinger-esque and more like “I Survived a Chinese Game Show.”
Even the left is getting a little tired of O-TV. In June, Bill Maher commented on his HBO show “I don’t want my president to be a TV star.” Maher went on, “You’re the president, not a rerun of ‘Law & Order.'” After the dithering on Afghanistan, millions of jobs lost since January and failure to reach bipartisan support on his signature issue, health care, it appears that rather than “Law & Order,” what we are seeing from this White House is more like “Saved by the Bell.”
Perhaps, in typical celebrity mindset, the waning J-Lo-in-chief needs a little scandal diversion. Which makes me wonder what is really behind the gatecrashers scandal. After all, this administration seems to be obsessed with reality TV. “The Biggest Loser” was filmed in the White House garden, a promo for “America’s Got Talent” was shot on the White House lawn, and Michelle’s hairstylist landed a spot in a reality show. Let’s not forget Michelle’s unveiling of the secret ingredient on “Iron Chef America.”
I hate to say it, but we will probably be seeing more of the plastic sound bites and hype in an attempt to save his image and sell his unpopular policies. Where is the Shamwow guy when we need him? An Obama-Oprah holiday special is already scheduled and I am sure there are many more to come. Hopefully, they won’t preempt “A Charlie Brown Christmas” again. The only show I would like to see the King of Photo-op on is “My Big Fat Obnoxious Deficit.”
Katharine DeBrecht is a political commentator, freelance writer and the author of the popular Help! Mom! children’s book series.