According to this USA Today article, President Obama’s “weekly ratings” have hit a record low. Google News had 6,010 results for “Obama ratings,” so I suppose it’s as important a measurement tool for Obama’s performance as the Nielsen ratings for TV and the weekend box office results for movies.
The question now is how to improve these numbers? Clearly, the debt-ceiling debacle has been a momentum killer, perhaps even a “jump-the-shark” plot line. If things don’t turn around, there’s a good chance Obama won’t be renewed next year.
Can this “on-the-bubble” administration be saved? Here are some options:
Replace Speaker Boehner: Obama needs a good antagonist, but John Boehner is as supercilious and unlikable as Frank Burns on “M*A*S*H.” When Burns left the series after the fifth season, his replacement was Charles Emerson Winchester III. He still gave Hawkeye a hard time but he was a competent surgeon and frequently demonstrated basic humanity, as opposed to the cartoonish Burns. Unfortunately, the only Republican from Massachusetts — where Winchester hailed — is Scott Brown and he’s a senator. Still, the former “Cosmo” model might have the appeal necessary to increase audience interest.
Bring Back Osama bin Laden: It turns out that killing bin Laden was a short-sighted May sweeps stunt. There was a brief spike in the ratings but now no one remembers or cares. Perhaps Americans realize the ongoing economic crisis is a greater and more immediate threat to their way of life than the machinations of a pornography-viewing madman… or they just could have incredibly short memories and are only ever aware of what’s happening three feet in front of them. Either way, you don’t knock off your star villain and not expect to lose a good chunk of your audience. Does anyone read those “Star Wars” novels that take place after Darth Vader dies? Imagine bin Laden returning from the grave for an epic confrontation in time for November sweeps? That’s entertainment.
Bring Back Bill Clinton: This guy is a ratings bonanza. He once had an approval rating of 73 percent — after being impeached on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. They actually rose 10 percent after his impeachment. Obama’s peaked at 60 percent — after ordering the successful killing of a terrorist mastermind. Only 30 percent of Americans wanted Clinton to resign after his impeachment. That’s just marginally more than the number of Americans who believed Obama was born in another country (no, really). Clearly, Clinton has star wattage.
More Tragedy and Romance: As Tolstoy said, “all happy families are alike… and deathly dull.” The highly rated Clintons provided plenty of salacious, soap-opera storylines. There were naughty interns and betrayed spouses. America couldn’t stop watching. Conversely, the Obamas are like the Huxtables but less funny. They should take a cue from David and Sherry Palmer on “24.” That was “Macbeth” with soul. The Obamas should also consider adopting another child — maybe Lindsay Lohan.
Let’s hope this helps. However, if America’s credit rating falls — actually less of a shocker given the national debt than the fact that it was ever deemed “top-notch” — Obama’s own ratings might not matter. Sort of like when Conan O’Brien left NBC for TBS. Expectations are revised.