Upon realizing that his final term as vice president of the United States is almost over, Dick Cheney has naturally started considering future career options. At the 62nd Annual Radio-Television Correspondents’ Association Dinner, he hinted that stand-up comedy may be at the top of his list. Well, if his plans fail, I hear they’re casting auditions for the major motion picture ‘Grumpy Old Men 3: This Time I’ll Use My Nukes.’
Cheney has outdone himself (or undone himself, I’m not sure which) with the comedy stunt he pulled, giving a stand-up performance that attracted tons of media attention. Perhaps these words are a bit harsh, but I thought the vice president’s demeanor during the routine was that of a weathered, stern-faced ruler trying desperately to convince his audience that he knows what he is doing when it comes to stand-up. The candid, easygoing ethos of a stand-up comedian that Cheney obviously attempted to mimic came out with a forced unnaturalness, similar to what I would expect to see had he been pretending to be a pacifist.
I don’t know about this whole politics-meets-the-entertainmentindustry thing. What’s next— Dianne Feinstein on ‘America’s Next Top Model’? Then again, our current Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did blow plenty of props to pieces in ‘Terminators’ I through III. And, of course, the wrestler-turned-politician Jesse Ventura had his own time in the limelight. But how effective are politicians who have spent time in the entertainment industry prior to or while holding office? One thing I have noticed is their knack for walking into power, priding themselves on being ‘of the people.’ They throw their weight around, use politically uncouth tactics, and refuse to take no for an answer (in the best interests of the people, of course).
Look at Schwarzenegger: His very election to office was borne out of discontentment with former Gov. Gray Davis, so from the outset Schwarzenegger reminded voters that he was not from Washington, D.C. He claimed that he was just what this chronically corrupt government needed. And, as California would soon discover, the Govenator doesn’t play with his words. In 2005 when the legislature rejected his proposals, he snubbed his nose at them and took them directly to the people, with little success. But at least it demonstrated his willingness to risk being called a power-hungry politician for the chance to give the people a say. The nice thing about celebrity politicians is that they are so used to getting what they want that they don’t let silly things like state legislatures stand in their way. When they feel an issue is important, they pursue it as they would pursue an Academy Award.
Perhaps the most extreme example of a celebrity-turned-politician is Ronald Reagan, who appeared in 53 movies before being elected as governor of California in 1966 and as president of the United States in 1980. Even the events that unfolded during his presidency seemed to be meant for the big screen: a popular politician sweeps into office, survives an assassination attempt just 69 days later and goes out of office leaving the nation with a strong sense of self-confidence—not too shabby.
So I guess I have to admit that my initial hesitance to accept a celebrity politician may have been signs of journalistic paranoia. Aside from providing sensational election campaign news, celebrity politicians shake things up a bit, stirring up the stagnant pool of political sewage that breeds corruption.
This sends Washington, D.C. a positive jolt that encourages reform measures that would have otherwise been averted by the ‘do not disturb’ sign posted at the doorstep of apathetic politics. So let’s get more actors and actresses into office. At least we won’t have to eliminate any candidates on the grounds of overqualification.
Filed Under: Opinion