Remember when Donald Trump started running for President, and the Huffington Post made fun of him by putting all of the posts about him in their "Entertainment" vertical? Hahaha, that was a good one. But Huffington Post missed the point of what was going on — it wasn't Donald that had turned an politics into entertainment. In this country, ALL politics has become entertainment.
Whether Donald wins or loses, the problem that created him is only going to get worse. Our only hope is that the good guys can use it to their advantage — for example, in the way that the Democrats are planning to stage their fight for Obama's Supreme Court nominee.
American politics being what they are, Obama can't just do his job. If he simply nominated a qualified judge and let the political system take it from there, he'd be doomed. So instead, the Democratic production company has to plan live events, book TV appearances to promote its various stars, and roll out a marketing campaign for the nomination show.
And the Republicans will do the same.
It's more than a game show — it's an entertainment experience. It's like how, whenever there's a new Pirates movie, Disney doesn't just release the movie but also rolls out a ton of new toys, and sends Jack Sparrows out to wander the theme parks, and airs tie-ins on TV, and posts web videos about it. Except that this isn't a fun summer movie — it's about who gets to decide things like whether women have control over their bodies. Isn't that fun!
So here's what to expect when Obama releases the name of his nominee, essentially launching pilot season:
Stephanie Cutter will be the showrunner. She was Obama's deputy campaign manager in 2012, and she's arranged for this to be a co-production with the Center for American Progress, Americans United for Change, and a bunch of wonky insiders you've never heard of.
That wonkiness is a bit of a liability, since it's boring, so they're packing the pilot with celebrities: labor groups, religious leaders, civil rights groups with big built-in audiences. It's like sweeps week.
Early episodes of the show will involve the nominee meeting with congressional Democrats, and hopefully some door-slamming from Republicans. This is pretty unusual — meetings with nominees are usually under the radar — but the hope is that a little confrontation will generate enough ratings to justify a spinoff: hearings.
These probably won't be official hearings at first. They're likely to just be for show, like most things that politicians do. That could take us into the summer, at which point if enough viewers are still interested, Republicans may be tempted to audition for the role of holding actual hearings.
For their part, Republicans are developing Supreme Court-themed shows of their own. They're rolling out ads smearing some of the likely nominees. One of the nominees represented a child molester, for example, so Republicans have jumped on that.
But these ads probably won't move too many viewers. When's the last time you stopped watching a show on NBC because CBS was running ads about how lame NBC is?
Personally I think the Democrats have a good shot at getting their show into syndication — that is, getting the nominee confirmed to the Supreme Court. So far, viewers have mostly been "ugh" on the Republican offerings. Professional wrestling casts "heels" (bad guys) and "faces" (good guys), and the Republicans have essentially cast themselves as the heels this season. Viewers do love a good villain, but they don't like seeing them win.