When Life Is A Stage

Governors take on reality TV

There has been conjecture that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s name would one day be associated with a dynasty. Only it came quicker than we expected, and the dynasty is named not after him, but ducks. Last month Jindal performed in an episode of “Duck Dynasty.” Playing the role of Governor of Louisiana, he fit the part. “Duck Dynasty” is the type of show that generates strong feelings; some people passionately like it, others passionately hate it. The latter group is not likely to include Jindal supporters, so the Governor had little to lose while at the same time shoring up his pro-“Duck” base.

Jindal is the second Louisiana governor to have been a part of a reality TV program. Edwin Edwards even co-starred in his own show, although the name went to the “Governor’s Wife.”

Edwards in a supporting role is not something Louisianans were used to seeing, and their opportunity was brief.  The show sank quicker than a bated hook nabbed by a catfish. Failure, of course, is the ultimate reality.

Louisiana, with its colorful collection of alligator hunters, swamp loggers and bayou folk, is a hotbed for reality TV shows, so much so that we suspect that future governors will all have their chance, at least for a cameo appearance, as long as their politics is not too apart from the free spirits who get their own shows.

Previous governors did not have such opportunities, but they would have been right for the part. Imagine a series, “Politics and Pasties,” having been built around Earl Long and his trysts with stripper Blaze Starr. Scenes could have been shot at the governor’s mansion and at a Bourbon Street strip club. Imagine the discussion as Blaze wondered what to wear for the inauguration ball. Critics would have been titillated by the opportunity to describe the series as being about “cover-ups.”

Mike Foster, who each Friday afternoon rode his Harley from the mansion back to his hometown of Franklin, would have been a hit in, “The Biker Governor.” Imagine the camaraderie at a pit stop when Foster encounters a gang of Hells Angels.

No Governor received a harder dose of reality than Kathleen Blanco. Her reality was so harsh that it almost seemed unreal. There were no laughs, but lots of drama as Blanco saw her state flooded in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. There was only terror at the televised scene of looters and lawlessness. The tension between Washington and Baton Rouge was often unbearable. Her story was that of reality going mad.

Reality TV seems to settle on lighter fare, although the notion of life being segmented into amusing situations is hardly real. Still, what everyday life cannot accomplish other forces may be able to. We have now seen duck hunters standing together with a governor whose native culture frowns on hunting. That may or may not be amusing TV, but it is great politics.

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