I know they’ve done Arsenio and Leno and Letterman and Oprah. But I’m still convinced that the upcoming appearance of the presidential candidates and their wives on Dr. Phil marks a new low point for American politics and maybe for American culture.
It’s bad enough that John and Theresa will appear next week. It’s even worse that the President and the First Lady are on tap this week. This isn’t just because the President has made it pretty clear that he and his are not major fans of psychology (apparently he prefers a fake shrink to a real one – at least there will be no charges that he’s mingling with the intellectual elite). W should avoid Phil’s couch because an appearance with this quack soils the office of the president more than any Oval Office oral indiscretion possibly could.
I would rather see my candidate make a green and grainy videotape with Paris Hilton than appear on the same stage as Dr. Phil. I would rather see Kerry get punk’d by Ashton Kutcher or see George W. Bush reacting to the verbal jabs from the dudes from Jackass as he dangles from a tree branch by his snuggied underpants. Anything would beat seeing either one of these men debase our nation with a visit to a psycho-hack who is so oddly effective as a communicator that he has managed to give advice on losing weight even though he’s sort of fat.
Oh, I know that it would be difficult for any candidate to pass up on a free hour of television time in front of millions of mostly women voters. But when is low just too damn low?
Answer: Dr. Phil.
Let’s figure out another way for the candidates to target undecided voters who may not be watching the evening news. How about a two man runoff on a special episode of Elimidate? A former bikini model has had too much to drink and wants to see which contestant can give a better lapdance. Now that’s politics. Whichever man can impress us in that situation can certainly handle something as relatively simple as, say, negotiating an end to Kim-Jung-Il’s nuclear testing.
Let’s get these guys on a speed round of Wheel of Fortune (nothing warns of bad fiscal policies like the poorly timed and wholly unnecessary buying of a vowel).
They could both appear in Trump’s boardroom or go head to head with Ken Jennings on a special edition of Jeopardy. W could have his Crawford pickup cherried out on Pimp My Ride while John Kerry shows his more human side as he interacts with Brigitte Nielsen, Flavor Flav and Charo on a special episode of The Surreal Life. Trust me, nothing can humanize a candidate faster than his being coaxed into saying “Cuchi, Cuchi, Cuchi” while sipping Costco margaritas and floating among the suds in a reality television hot tub.
I would rather see these guys on Springer than on Dr. Phil. At least Jerry and his audience all know they are participating in total nonsense. Dr. Phil has actually duped his audience into believing that they are really being guided along the path towards overcoming life’s many difficulties.
And it’s not just the candidates and the voters who will come out the losers in this scenario. It’s Dr. Phil’s regular viewers. Are you feeling depressed? Feeling like there is an absence of truth and meaning in your slife? Well, take it from me. The last thing you want to do is to start paying closer attention to national politics.
So the candidates want to reach millions of undecided women voters, many of whom are mothers. But presidential appearances on Dr. Phil are clearly wrong for America. How do we solve this dilemma?
I’ve got one word for you.