(CNN - Feb 13) Taking no chances, President Obama is exerting last-minute pressure on Congress to approve his stimulus plan by highlighting stories of people affected by the economic downturn.I thought of Queen for a Day while watching Barack Obama hug the homeless Henrietta Hughes at a Florida town hall meeting a few days ago, after she tearfully asked for her own kitchen and bathroom and he replied that he was going to do "everything we can" to help her. The exchange produced a rent-free house from a sympathetic viewer.
The Democratic National Committee and Obama's Organizing for America are using Obama's vast e-mail list Friday to contact the president's political supporters and point them to a new Web page, where several of these stories can be viewed. The goal is to drum up public support for the measure as Congress prepares to vote on it.
"These stories show why an economic recovery plan is needed immediately to address the hardship Americans are experiencing right now," the site says.
The stories were collected last weekend from Obama supporters who attended one of 3,600 meetings held across the country to discuss the situation, according to the DNC. In all, 31,030 stories were submitted to the DNC and Organizing for America, a grass-roots movement that grew out of the campaign. [...]
For readers too young to remember, Queen for a Day was a contestant show that debuted on American radio in 1945 and in its TV incarnation aired from 1956 to 1964.
Queen for a Day was probably the world's first reality show. The contest was to determine which woman among four had the biggest sob story. Each contestant would explain to the live audience why she or a member of her family was in great need.
The audience would clap for the contestant they thought was the neediest; the biggest round of applause registered by the Clap-0-Meter would determine the winner.
The winner would be draped in a red velvet cape, crowned, and given a dozen roses along with prizes, then she'd choke and sob her thanks.
The show made a mint for NBC television, which expanded the half hour radio format to 45 minutes so they could stuff in more advertising time, and surely made Kleenex disposable tissues into a household necessity. Perhaps only the feminist revolution, which got millions of women out of the house and into the workforce, put an end to the agony for husbands who would come home from work five nights a week to find their wives red-eyed and snuffling about tragedies they'd heard on Queen for Day.
The show was an inversion of the idea behind the Miss America contest; instead of promoting the prettiest, most talented and smartest American women, Queen glorified the saddest, frumpiest losers the producers could scrape up.
Yes of course it's good to help your neighbor but the inscription on the Statue of Liberty does not read, 'Welcome to the land of the tired, the poor and the oppressed.'
If Mr Obama wishes to retell history's greatest success story as a tearjerker in order to serve his political agenda, I say it's time for a new sob show: Slippery Bastard for a Day, in which the audience gets to vote for the most cynical, manipulative and two-faced politician.
This entry is crossposted at RBO.