John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Jump the Shark

Posted on July 24, 2009
Jump the Shark

In modern parlance, the jump the shark moment is the time, decision or episode where a once dominant political figure, sports team or television series signaled it was going down hill fast.

The phrase comes from that fateful episode of Happy Days, when the Fonz literally jumped over a shark. Cultural historians note that at the precise moment that Fonzie went over the shark, Happy Days official sucked as a television series.

For Yankee fans (and I am not one of those), the jump the shark moment is probably when the ARod joined the squad.

Some will say that George Bush’s jump the shark moment was when he went on the aircraft carrier with a Mission Accomplished sign in the background. My view is Katrina was Bush’s shark jump.

Ronald Reagan’s jump the shark moment was Iran-Contra, Dick Nixon was the Watergate break-in, Bill Clinton’s was Monica, Jimmy Carter’s was the malaise speech, Gerald Ford was Nixon’s pardon, George H.W. Bush was probably not knowing the price of a gallon of milk.

It is always better to have your jump the shark moment come later in your term (preferably the second one).

If President Obama is a one-term President, his press conference on Wednesday night will probably be the key moment where he jumped the shark.

The purpose of the press conference was to push for action on health care before the August break. The day after the press conference, the Senate Majority Leader announced that he was going to postpone consideration of health care until after the August break. Whoops.

He said that he was going to continue to push for tax increases (included ones aimed the nation’s charities) that are already dead in the Congress.

He kept using campaign rhetoric without realizing that the folks he is campaigning against are members of his own party.

The only news from the press conference came from a completely unrelated topic. His home town newspaper reporter, Lynn Sweet (gotta love Lynn Sweet) asked the President what he thought of the cops who busted his pal Skip Gates.

POTUS called the cops “stupid”. Hmmm….not good.

It is never good for a President to call any law enforcement officer, folks who put themselves on the line every day to protect this country from criminals, stupid. But there he was, a President that many folks believe is radically liberal, calling the cops stupid.

Predictably, those cops from around the country condemned the remarks. And predictably, Al Sharpton supported (vocally) the President.

The last thing President Obama needs is vocal support from Al Sharpton, the guy whose last gig was basically calling anybody who thought Michael Jackson was weird a racist.

The President’s agenda is slowing done. His health care plan is stalled. His cap and trade proposal is dead in the Senate. His stimulus plan is increasingly unpopular. His poll numbers are dropping, quickly. Independents are turning on him because they fear his plans will bankrupt the country. Blue Dogs are doing their best to distance themselves from him. Senators are ignoring him or worse.

The President may pull out of this tailspin. He may get a slimmed down health care bill and jobs might come back and he might start rolling up his sleeves and getting back to real work for the American people.

But if he doesn’t, his press conference from Wednesday night will be his jump the shark moment.

Subscribe to the Feehery Theory Newsletter, exclusively on Substack.
Learn More