Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Presidential Politics 2016: Choosing the Real American Idol

Ted and Carly?

Those who tuned in to see Senator Ted Cruz announce Carly Fiorina as his running mate (on the off chance he’s named the 2016 presidential candidate of the Republican Party) were in for a surprise when she started singing. Who knew that the former CEO of tech giant Hewlett-Packard had musical aspirations? But it started me thinking. We’re all totally sick of this never-ending presidential primary season. Who wants to read more about Cruz speeches, Bernie rallies, Trump tweets?  Caucuses schmaucuses – how about something completely different? Something fun and telegenic. Like, perhaps, a TV reality show.

The biggest challenge would be which format to pick. There’s the aptly-named Big Brother: dump all the candidates in an isolated house (Camp David, maybe?) and watch the dogfight. Along the same lines, there’s Survivor: wouldn’t it be lovely to send everyone to some distant island, full of scorpions and other nasty critters, and discover just who is capable of emerging triumphant? And let’s not forget the very weird Naked and Afraid. I suspect that Hillary Clinton would not look presidential if she had to shed her pantsuit and go on a wilderness adventure in the altogether, but it would be instructive to learn which of her male opponents has the balls (sorry!) to compete minus jockey shorts and hair gel. (Of course, if candidates’ spouses were included on this trek, Melania Trump would have a clear advantage, since she seems to be quite comfortable wearing little or nothing. I can’t imagine Heidi Cruz enjoying this, though Bill Clinton would certainly be up for getting into the spirit of things.)

But let’s dial it back a bit, and consider formats that require less nudity and more talent. Carly Fiorina has already made it clear that she enjoys singing. So what about reviving the now defunct American Idol for the duration of the presidential campaign? Tammy Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man” would be a natural for Hillary. For the Donald, I suggest reviving a ballad from Frank Loesser’s 1961 hit Broadway musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. (You may not recall – I certainly didn’t – that the show is based on a humorous parody of a how-to manual, whose subtitle is “The Dastard's Guide to Fame and Fortune.”) Anyway, the song I have in mind is called “I Believe in You.”  Here are the opening lyrics:

            “You have the cool, clear eyes
            Of a seeker of wisdom and truth;
            Yet there's that upturned chin
            And that grin of impetuous youth.
            Oh, I believe in you.
            I believe in you.”

Yes, the leading man sings the song—to himself, as he’s looking into his shaving mirror. As for the other candidates, I can think of more than one (John Kasich? Chris Christie?) who’d be well suited to warbling “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” 

Or maybe—on behalf of candidates who are certainly tone-deaf from time to time—it’s better if our show is a variation on Dancing With the Stars. I can imagine Jeb Bush scoring with a sedate little waltz. Ted Cruz probably does a mean Texas two-step, and Marco Rubio (who has a Cuban heritage and high-heeled cowboy boots) is surely a whiz when it comes to salsa dancing. Given his kibbutz years, Bernie Sanders might be able to manage a spirited hora. And I’d certainly like to see Dr. Ben Carson do the cupid shuffle.

There’s a brides-choosing-wedding-gowns show I love, called Say Yes to the Dress. How about, this primary season, something like Say No to the Blow-Hard? Or, perhaps, simply Say No to the Schmo?  Works for me!


  1. I shudder to think about political candidates Naked and Afraid. Say No to the Schmo has real potential, though!

  2. I agree. Thanks for writing in, Hilary.