Up Front

The Question

What are some of the proposed new House committees?

"The Committee on Redefinition of Committees for Political Expediency." -- Scott Thill, Alternet

"The Committee to Protect the Personhood of Corporations." -- Judith Long, The Nation

"The Committee on Presidential Birth Certificates." -- Chris Weigant, Huffington Post

"A Joint Committee on Bleeding the Beast." -- Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones

"The Committee on 'Science' and Technology." -- Negin Farsad, writer

Dialogue The Real World, D.C.

Should more politicians pursue their own reality shows?

Jamelle Bouie: So, Sarah Palin's reality show won't make it to a second season. From what I understand, she had it canceled, even though the ratings were pretty good.

Adam Serwer: Well, they were about as good as AMC's The Walking Dead, so she's as popular as a show about zombies eating people.

Jamelle: As it happens, I think the show -- Sarah Palin's Alaska -- successfully made her look less horrible. I came away thinking that she wasn't so bad.

Adam: Yeah, but you didn't come away thinking she'd make a decent president. Her unfavorables are higher now than ever.

Jamelle: But that doesn't always need to be true. Take Tim Pawlenty. Who is he? No one knows! If he had a reality show -- Real Governors of Minnesota -- he might find support outside of the usual quarters.

Adam: I don't know that For the Love of T-Paw is gonna win a whole lot of primary votes. For now, I think "reality show" carries too much of the stigma of trash TV. It's like how Republicans feel about Sarah Palin. They like seeing her speak and the fact that she tweaks liberals, but ultimately, most recognize that they need a more serious 2012 contender.

Jamelle: I'm not sure trashy TV and seriousness are mutually exclusive. Though, it would be trashy if Rep. Mike Pence were a contestant on The Bachelorette.

Adam: I could see a former contestant on a political reality show getting somewhere. After all, America was first introduced to Karl Rove through a CBS story on the Nixon campaign. But I can't imagine an established politician improving his standing that way.

Jamelle: I don't know about that. What better way to build pseudo-camaraderie with the American people than to show them the inner workings of politicians' lives?

Adam: We want to like our politicians, but there's a way in which a reality show -- as opposed to say, a documentary -- would just fuel contempt for them. And politicians usually don't want or need help in getting people to feel contempt.

Jamelle: Well, there is the possibility that a well-done reality show could boost the profile of a dark-horse candidate like Herman Cain.

Adam: That's true, although if I had run an almost-defunct pizza chain, I'm not sure how much of that attention I'd really want. Still, it's not hard to imagine the Republican primary being run like a season of The Apprentice.

Jamelle: Would Zombie Ronald Reagan be Donald Trump?

Adam: I was kinda hoping for Haley Barbour.

Jamelle: He would be good, too. I'm not sure what a Democratic primary would look like in reality-TV terms -- Flavor of Love, maybe? Even when you win, you lose.

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