John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


A Lesson from Happy Days

Posted on August 25, 2008



            One of my earliest lessons in politics came from watching the show Happy Days. 


            As you may remember, Happy Days was a long-running television show starring Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham and Henry Winkler as  Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli.  The show presented an idealized version of growing up in the 1950’s.


            In one particular episode, Richie volunteers in the Presidential campaign of Adlai Stevenson.  He did it to pick up a particular girl he had a crush on, but his crush on the girl soon turned to a crush on Stevenson, the Presidential candidate.


            Stevenson was an intellectual.  He gave a great convention speech.  He appealed to college students, especially college girls.  He was from Illinois (sound familiar).


            Eisenhower was old, a military guy and non-descript as a speaker.  He doesn’t inspire a new generation. 


            In one particular scene, Richie tries to get Fonzie to vote for his favored candidate.  Fonzie’s reply is priceless.  “Hey, I like Ike.”


            It was the working class guys way of sticking it to the supposed elite.


            Of course, Stevenson goes on to lose, while Richie ends up losing the girl.  Fonzie, ever the opportunist, goes to the loser’s campaign to comfort the distraught distaff campaign staff. 


            It goes without saying that Senator Obama bears a certain likeness to Senator Stevenson.  Both from Illinois, both wildly popular with younger voters, both idealistic, both intellectuals, and both will have a hard time attracting the Arthur Fonzarelli vote.


            The McCain campaign should simplify its slogan to I like Mac.  It worked for Ike.