Friday 12 June 2009
(Artwork: Drew Friedman / Time Magazine)
President Obama should just join the cast of "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" It's not that farfetched; he's been on everything else.
I'm still a fan, but there's a fine line between being transparent and being overexposed. Every time you turn on the TV, there's Obama. He's getting a puppy! He's eating a cheeseburger with Joe Biden! He's taking the wife to Broadway and Paris - this is the best season of "The Bachelor" yet!
I get it: You love being on TV. I love my bong, but I take it out of my mouth every once in a while. The other day, I caught myself saying to a friend, "Don't tell me if he's fixed the economy yet, I'm Tivo-ing it."
Remember during the campaign when John McCain attacked Obama for acting like a celebrity and we all laughed at the grumpy old shellshocked fool? Well, it turns out he was right. Sorry, senator. I'm sending a nice gift basket of high-fiber muffins your way.
It's getting to where you can't turn on your TV without seeing Obama. Who does he think he is, Dick Cheney? Come on, sir, you don't have to be on television every minute of every day. You're the president, not a rerun of "Law and Order." Save some charisma for a rainy day. Taking strangers from a TV show on a tour of your house? We have that show; it's called "Cribs." And letting reporters ask you questions like "You like to be the one who picks out the shaving cream, don't you?" Or as it's called today, "journalism." I was willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt until I saw him take Brian Williams into his bedroom, and at the end of the bed there was a teleprompter and it said, "Who's your daddy?"
I mean, selling the personal part to stay popular, I'm all for it, but you got us already. We like you, we really like you! You're skinny and in a hurry and in love with a nice lady. But so's Lindsay Lohan. And like Lohan, we see your name in the paper a lot, but we're kind of wondering when you're actually going to do something.
I know that's harsh. But when I read about how you sat on the sidelines while bailed-out banks used the money we gave them to hire lobbyists who got Congress to stop homeowners from getting renegotiated loans, or how Congress is already giving up on healthcare reform, or how scientists say it's essential to reduce CO2 by 40% in 10 years, but your own bill calls for 4%, I say, enough with the character development, let's get on with the plot.
And let's stop worrying so much about doing anything that might tarnish the brand. See, this is why I don't want my president to be a TV star: Because TV stars are too worried about being popular - and too concerned with getting renewed.
You can relax about that, Mr. President, knowing that there's a large, rich organization doing everything it possibly can to ensure that you'll get reelected: It's called the Republican Party.
Speaking of which, if you can't beat Republicans now, when they're so down they take orders from Rush Limbaugh, then when? The way to get renewed for your reality show that you love so much is to act boldly now.
Obama needs to start putting it on the line in fights against the banks, the energy companies and the healthcare industry. I never thought I'd say this, but he needs to be more like George W. Bush. Bush was all about, "You're with us or against us."
Obama's more like, "You're either with us, or you obviously need to see another picture of this adorable puppy!"
Bush had horrible ideas, like torture and deregulation and preemptive war and tax cuts for the rich, but he pushed them through, in their full measure, never mind Congress or the Constitution or the Geneva Convention or the Magna Carta or the Code of Hammurabi.
The point is, he didn't care if it made him unpopular with every human on the planet not named Cletus or Fred Barnes. Which it did.
And we need to marry the good ideas Obama really believes in with that Bush attitude and Bush certitude. I'd love for Obama to come out one day and say, "Jesus told me to fix healthcare." Or, "History will decide whether stopping the polar ice caps from melting and drowning us all was a good thing."
In conclusion, Bush was a jerk, but he never cared about being seen having a burger with Dick Cheney. He picked up the phone in the White House and said, "I'm the president, bring me a burger." And they'd say, "Sir, this is NORAD. Would you please stop ordering burgers with the red phone?"
I'm glad that Obama is president, but the "Audacity of Hope" part is over. Right now, I'm hoping for a little more audacity.
Bill Maher is the host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher."