Home Multimedia | We’re jumping the shark

Multimedia | We’re jumping the shark


I loved the show “Happy Days.” Didn’t we all? The Fonz, “Hey!” Richie Cunningham and Lori Beth. Joanie and Chachi. Mr. and Mrs. C. Ralph Malph, Potsy, Arnold’s. And then they decided to take the gang out of Milwaukee and send them all to Hawaii, and put Fonzi, who had gotten us all out of sorts when he tried an Evel Knievel jump on his motorcyle, to jump a shark on water skis.

Jump the shark has entered the lexicon as a way of describing when a good TV show starts heading downhill, and more generally when a good concept starts going bad.

I’m worried two months into the Democratic Party control of the White House and both houses of Congress that we might already be jumping the shark.

“We know these representatives are hearing it from the special interests that will do anything to maintain the failed policies of the last eight years that were entirely stacked in their favor and that turned our economy into a house of cards. We know they’re hearing it from the big oil and insurance companies and others who are very concerned about losing their giveaways from the Bush era. We hope to provide encouragement from where it matters most: struggling Virginia families,” said Jeremy Funk of Americans United for Change, which has launched a TV-ad campaign targeting moderate Demorats in 12 states, including Virginia, to encourage “investments that will lay a solid foundation for long-term prosperity and create jobs.”

MoveOn.org is engaging in a similar campaign of radio ads and mass e-mails, as are Campaign for America’s Future and USAction. It’s hard to be against prosperity and jobs and the like on the surface, but as with everything in politics, the devil is in the details, or the lack thereof. I’m not seeing anything more specific in the ad blitzes other than the message of support President Obama’s budget, which institutionally is in the very beginning stages and won’t be adopted until the early fall.

It makes me wonder what we’re really aiming for here if we’re targeting the likes of Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the architect of the Virginia Democratic Party revival who ran for the Senate last year talking openly about his hopes to use his seat to build a “radical centrist” coalition in the senior federal legislative body to bring a sense of moderation to Capitol Hill that has been missing for a generation now.

I’m like everybody else who voted for Warner and Obama in ’08 and Jim Webb in ’06. I want to see moves toward substantive health-care reform and economic and social justice and improvements to our education system. Warner and Webb want those same things and are working to bring them to reality. So what gives with these ad campaigns?

What I’m afraid of is that the more liberal among our progressive set is trying to cash in policy-wise very much like the more conservative among the GOP base tried to do in the early Bush years back when Karl Rove was talking openly about a “permanent Republican majority.” Remember how they took their mandate (as if losing a popular vote gives one a mandate) to block new stem-cell research and take major steps backward on family planning and push gay-marriage bans and related nonsense? And took to calling the moderates and centrists in their midst RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) to mock their ideological impurity, as if ideology is more important than good sense?

What we’re seeing this week from these Democrat groups is us jumping the shark. It won’t be long before somebody calls me a DINO and instructs me to go ahead and become a Republican already because I happen to believe that we need to focus on the economy and economic development first and foremost because it’s a strong economy that gives us the resources to tackle universal health care and education reforms and the rest.

And the pendulum swings yet again …


– Story by Chris Graham



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