Ideas for a White House reality show

With Barack Obama?s inauguration less than two weeks away, I thought I would share some ideas I have for improving the presidency. (I see you already thumbing over to the sports section. Trust me; I think you?ll like what I have.)

My ideas were sparked a few weeks back while browsing the January issue of Reader?s Digest. Toward the end of the issue, one article was headlined: ?Memo to the President.? In it, the Digest staff ?asked 18 statesmen and -women spanning the political spectrum? to give Obama their advice.

One piece of advice?submitted by former White House Press Secretary Michael D. McCurry?was titled ?Remake the Bully Pulpit.?

McCurry advised the president-elect that what he needs most is to reinstate Americans? trust by communicating with the country.

He referred to Theodore Roosevelt, who coined the term ?bully pulpit? to illustrate the power the presidency holds for communicating with the American public.

Roosevelt is referred to as ?The Great Communicator,? mainly because there is no documentation of a shoe ever being thrown at him.

Another good example is Franklin D. Roosevelt, who held 30 ?fireside chats? to discuss issues and events through radio broadcasting.

McCurry wrote that America has missed this kind of communication. He said that the bully pulpit needs a remake.

And then he unveiled his proposal. ?Look at what is popular on TV: reality shows. Make the White House one.?

At first, I was skeptical. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. I started brainstorming some suggestions.

The most obvious point: It had to be a million times more entertaining than C-SPAN.

The Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network is a series of three television channels that broadcasts live coverage of the House of Representatives, Senate and other live events. In other words: yawn.

So, in the name of research, I spent several hours watching Fox Reality, a station that airs only reality television shows.

Obviously, this kind of project would require its own channel for continuous, uninterrupted broadcasting. (C-SPAN. C-SPAN run. Run, SPAN, run!)

The channel could go live Jan. 20, an hour prior to the inauguration.

Here I envision some sort of large, red-white-and-blue obstacle course that Obama has to get through before he can officially become president.

This kind of show-opener is popular among reality programs because it weeds out weaker contestants at the beginning. If Obama doesn?t make it through the course, John McCain would be lifted via helicopter to the podium and sworn in as president. Or maybe, to keep things fresh, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Another popular reality show tactic is to make contestants battle for the positions they want. For example, Fox Reality has a show called ?Who Wants to Be a Superhero,? in which contestants?I promise I?m not making this up?seem to believe they are actually super.

They all have their own costumes, complete with tights, and run around in public during broad daylight ?rescuing? people.

I think this could work for appointing Obama?s cabinet.

Minus the tights, it might be fun to make perform some sort of task related to the desired title,

For example, to be appointed head of the Department of Education, a person would have to win a spelling bee, or to be appointed head of the Depart?ment of Defense, a person would have to?this is a pun?single-handedly oppose the offense during one play at this year?s Super Bowl.

A more practical reality show idea I came up with involves home remodeling. The Home and Garden Television network offers some fun shows along this line.

HGTV has a show called ?Design to Sell,? in which homeowners enlist the help of professionals to completely redo rooms so the house will be attractive to potential customers.

I think this would be fun for the Oval Office.

Maybe we could get Ty Pen?nington to come and remodel the Oval Office for under $2,000 in only three days. He could even make it the Octagon Office or the Sort Of Skewed Horseshoe-Shaped Office.

A theme that rings true for almost every Fox Reality show is conflict.

Whether it?s bringing back unpopular contestants??Who Wants to Be a Superhero? once brought back a kicked-off contestant to be the other contestants? arch nemesis?or free-time squabbles?a girl on ?Rock of Love Charm School? once started a catfight with a couple of girls, and then went and whined to some other girls after they didn?t come to defend her? the conflict always seems to be fairly scripted.

For example, a White House reality-show producer could slip a nerdy school photo of Joe Biden into a press release, or Dick Cheney could walk into the House of Representatives holding a shotgun.

Those are just a few of the ideas I have for a White House reality TV show. Obviously, the show would eventually get around to actually covering what?s going on.

If there ever is a White House reality show, I hope they ask me for some ideas. I have lots more.

Picture Monica Lewinsky getting nominated for head of the Department of State. Now that?s entertainment.

* * *

UFO: A contestant on ?Press Your Luck? racked up an amazing series of wins by memorizing the patterns of the prize board?s light sequence.

Don?t ask why.

Written By
More from David Vogel
Coffee maker key for college survival
For those of you who haven?t been to chain discount stores lately,...
Read More