Good political satire is hard to come by on television. You might get a good episode spoofing campaigns on The Simpsons, or a particular political issue on Modern Family – but sustained political comedy usually devolves into typical rom-com territory like Spin City or Benson did back in the 1980’s.
That’s why I love HBO’s new show VEEP, a series about the mundane day-to-day lives of fictional Vice President Selina Meyers (played by Seinfeld alum Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her staff. The show is hilarious, has a better feel for Washington politics than most programs on Fox News, and even dispenses a little advice to the current White House.
For example, last week’s episode gave a subtle nudge to the Obama 2012 campaign: if Barack wants to get re-elected it’s time for Michelle to get pregnant.
Part of the humor in VEEP stems from Vice President Meyer’s frustrations with how utterly impotent and constrained the position of Vice President really is. Meyers plays a former Senator who ran for president, dropped out of the primary and was selected as a running mate by the candidate that ultimately won. While not specifically about the Obama White House there are subtle comments sprinkled throughout the show which lead you to believe Barack and Michelle are the inspiration for some of the stories and one–liners (part of the humor of the show is that you never actually SEE the president).
Early in the series there were several comments about how the president won’t get re-elected if they don’t improve the jobs numbers, and several weeks ago when the real world press was all abuzz about Michelle and Oprah feuding, VEEP did an episode about Selina and FLOTUS feuding over fashion sense.
In last week’s episode after failing to make any progress on a Clean Jobs bill the VEEP is reduced to promoting the “Get MOVING” campaign, an initiative to get fast food chains like Chik-Fil-A and Krispy Kreme to sell more healthy food and encourage fitness. Sound like anyone we know in Washington?
When developing the show Dreyfus made it a point to say that she was a huge Michelle Obama fan and that her character’s style and dress would be more akin to the first lady despite the actress’s closer resemblance to former VP pick Sarah Palin.
So when Meyers reveals to her Chief of Staff (played brilliantly by former child star Anna Chlumsky) that she might be pregnant it got me thinking. Maybe VEEP is onto something here, maybe they’re sending a subtle hint to the Obama White House that a pregnant Michelle just might be the boost Barack needs to ensure a second term.
There is precedent for this potential political pregnancy that leans in the president’s favor. The idea of the first couple having another child so captures the imagination of the public that tabloids were reporting Michelle was pregnant in December of 2011. Also, according to yet another Gallup Poll released this morning Michelle Obama continues to be one of the most popular people in this administration topping out at a 62% approval rating right below Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The notion of Michelle having a baby would only shoot her approval ratings even higher and inevitably some of that would rub off on Barack’s typical numbers in the high 40’s. Historically there has never been a pregnant first lady in the White House, so the Obama’s would be making history yet again, and the entire world would be watching and waiting with excitement.
If our cousins overseas are any indicator a pregnant wife seems like a huge electoral boost.
In England Tony Blair’s numbers surged after his wife announced her pregnancy and he won a huge re-election in 2002 for Labour. David Cameron campaigned with a very pregnant wife in 2010 and began the first Tory Prime Minister in over a decade. The only political leader in recent years to get his wife pregnant that didn’t score an election victory afterwards was Nicholas Sarkozy in France. Then again, his wife was his former mistress so maybe that never went over too well with the public.
The point is: Obama should take a hint from VEEP, a hit HBO show about politics, on how he should conduct himself over the next few months. All of this campaigning is fine, but if he really wants to guarantee himself 4 more years he needs to “Get Moving” on producing Barack Jr. Americans would love it, the press would love it, and most importantly it would have his support back into the stratosphere by election time. And this would totally play into Obama’s attacks on Mitt Romney, too. I mean, it’s hard for Mitt Romney to change the image that he’s a cold, pro-business, corporate scrooge when he’s trying to put a guy out of work who’s got a baby on the way.