Politics has always been a strange animal. But lately, it’s turned into The Gong Show. You remember that old gem. People of often questionable and weird talent performed on television for a panel of “judges” who could applaud or hit a giant gong to send them away. It was a modern day gladiator games without the lions but almost as much bloodshed. Yet we all laughed because of the ridiculousness of every Tom, Dick and Harry showing off their so-called “talents.”
However, today the Toms, Dicks, and Harrys aren’t tap dancing, singing or telling jokes. They’re running for office. And too often, getting in.
The most obvious example is the former president, a Hollywood celebrity who had no experience or expertise to bring to the stage. And proved it during his chaotic four years in office. But he’s hardly the first.
Ronald Reagan was an actor before he served two terms as Commander-in-Chief. But he was also a union president and the governor of California. So he actually had some background before taking the Oval Office.
Other entertainers have also successfully moved into politics after years in Hollywood. Shirley Temple Black went from child star to a career in the Foreign Service. Fred Thompson was still a senator when he first appeared on Law & Order as the District Attorney. Then there’s Al Franken, George Murphy, and Helen Gahagan Douglas just to name a few more.
But most entertainers-turned-political candidates have left voters scratching their heads. Melissa Gilbert attempted to run in 2016. Mr. Smith [went] to Washington. So Laura Ingles goes to Congress?
Miranda Hobbes, a.k.a. Sex in the City star Cynthia Nixon, ran for the nomination against incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo. (Bet a lot of Democrats are wishing they’d re-thought that vote.)
Love Boat’s “Gopher” Fred Grandy, Dukes of Hazzard’s “Cooter” Ben Jones, and wrestler Jesse Ventura all got elected to their various political offices – thankfully, only briefly – before moving on to their next project. Apparently, politics was just another “role” to try.
And now, the newest personality to throw his hat into the political ring is TV’s Dr. Oz, himself. He’s a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon (who hasn’t cut in well over a decade) and a professor at Columbia University (although a group of physicians, surgeons, and professors asked the university to remove him from its faculty). He doesn’t exactly scream, “Vote for me!”
But since Anthony Fauci has become a trusted face for many voters, why not Mehmet Oz? So he’s running for the Senate in Pennsylvania.
Who cares that he doesn’t live there? After all, he’s got the support of Donald Trump. Who needs experience in politics, social science, or law? He’s famous. So what if he’s been investigated for promoting junk science on his show? He’s rich. Let’s put him in office!
Twenty years ago, I would have applauded that so many from all walks of life are willing to wade into politics to lead change and make their country a better place. Today, I’m just horrified. And waiting for someone to hit that big gong.