Quick thoughts on virtually everything that's been crossing my mind, in passing:
- I know very little about politics, and I've done no reading at all about this subject, but this is what I took home from the State of the Union: President Bush has been elected to a second term, and therefore cannot be elected to any more terms past this one. The mid-terms have come and gone, there was a clear sweep leftward, and now he's got two years remaining. His approval rating is down to basically the First Lady, Condi, and sometimes my dad. We have entered a period of time where there's almost no disadvantage to almost any action he takes. And if you'll excuse an overworked phrasing: there's nothing left to lose.
As far as I could tell, the big news from the President's speech was his continued plea for patience in Iraq, and a call for more troops. This was followed by an expected yet quite extended Democratic trashing of these ideas, which every network gleefully carried. So, why go for it? Why not just give little mention of the Iraq conflict, focus more on energy and bipartisan cooperation, and try to boost his poll numbers so as to be able to more of a political help come election time?
I think the President knows that there's a good chance that the next president will be a junior senator from New York or Illinois, and that the likely Republican candidate will be McCain, who's likely going to run as The Republican Democrats Can Vote For. He knows he doesn't need to be popular his last two years.
I think he's trying win this thing - this whole thing, this whole "War On Terror" - all by himself, before anyone else shows up and messes with it. I think he's trying to win it all while he feels there's still a shot to do so. And honestly, he might be right.
- American Idol has launched a number of struggling shows from being on the bubble to being certified hits: The O.C, House, etc. Well, we've finally determined a program that its ratings can't save: The State of the Union on Fox. Heck, more people watched the thing on NBC, and NBC's barely ahead of the Golf Channel these days.
- By the way, has anyone else noticed how well NBC's been handling their low ratings? They're playing their hand beautifully. They make a big fuss about the loss of budget and how everyone's tightening their belts, and are constantly releasing information that makes it sound like a lot of their shows are on the edge, and might get canceled at any minute. While they're doing this, all of their struggling shows are playing the "we're an underdog show on an underdog network" card - making fun of NBC during their shows, doing lots of interviews on Conan and Leno where they talk about working on a tight budget and being worried about being axed at any minute.
It's a smart move because each of these moves rallies their fan base from being casual watchers to being vocal defenders of the show. And it's no coincidence that the shows using these techniques (Studio 60, 30 Rock, The Office, My Name Is Earl, SNL, and even NBC Nightly News) have climbed from becoming bubble shows to People Choice Award winners and iTunes bestsellers.
(Okay, so SNL was never really on the bubble. But it's still following suit and so it counts)