Jumping The Shark


In the television business, they call it “jumping the shark.” The phrase was inspired by a rather infamous episode of “Happy Days” during which Fonzie — inexplicably still wearing his signature leather jacket — accepts a dare to don water skis and jump over a tiger shark. Although “Happy Days” managed seven more seasons after Fonzie’s stunt, the shark-jumping moment signified the end of the long-running sitcom staple’s considerable cultural influence and the beginning of its creative descent. In the years that followed, “jumping the shark” entered the lexicon as a phrase that identifies the subject — whether a television program or a politician — as having passed the point of value on the path to self-parody.

Even those few men who have inhabited the highest office in the land have leaped over the proverbial predator. President Richard Nixon did so the day he claimed: “When the President does it, that means that it’s not illegal.” President Jimmy Carter jumped his shark the day he fought and lost the Battle of the Chattahoochee Bunny. President Bill Clinton met his in the form of a chubby intern in a blue dress. President George W. Bush stood in front of his and declared “Mission Accomplished.” And President Barack Hussein Obama sent his on a press tour this past weekend.

With multiple scandals dominating the headlines (each borne of either gross incompetence or the sort of insidious corruption that hasn’t been seen in the White House since President Warren Harding jumped his own shark near the Teapot Dome), Obama gambled like a sitcom character on water skis. While he sent a junior varsity mouthpiece named Dan Pfeiffer to make an absolute fool of himself on the Sunday talk show rounds, his Administration leaked the almost dumbfounding news: Disgraced U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is not only not headed for a teaching position at one of those sad places where old liberals are put out to pasture, but she’s a sure bet to become the next National Security Adviser.

Pfeiffer’s performance puts the Obama Administration’s usual sideshow antics to shame. Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Pfeiffer said Obama’s whereabouts during the Benghazi, Libya, massacre were an “irrelevant fact.” In an appearance of ABC News’ “This Week,” Pfeiffer jumped over Jaws on the topic of the Internal Revenue Service attacks on Obama’s perceived enemies, claiming, “The law is irrelevant.” There were more stunts on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” where Pfeiffer said the identity of those who altered Benghazi talking points was (of course) “largely irrelevant.” And then, the showstopper: Pfeiffer said, “And, frankly, I think that many of the Republicans… owe Ambassador Rice an apology for the things they said about her.”  And he didn’t even don the leather for that one.

Even while their attempts to bury Benghazi under a mountain of mendacity fail like Congressman Hank Johnson taking an oceanography exam, Obama and his coterie of thugs continue to amaze. The woman who falsely blamed the deaths of four Americans on some crappy YouTube video is slated to take up the mantle of the senior adviser to the President on matters of people who kill Americans. Rice’s shocking disregard for basic honesty cost her the big office at the Department of State. So instead of shuffling her off to the wacky world of the speakers’ circuit, Obama has decided to put her in charge of telling him which amateur auteurs to imprison.

Obama and his accomplices have told tall tales about so many of their various assaults on life, liberty and even common sense that they’re struggling to keep their stories straight. From Newtown, Conn., to Benghazi, from an IRS outpost in Cincinnati to the White House itself, and from Obamacare (the implementation of which will be overseen by Sarah Hall Ingram, the same pencil-pusher responsible for turning the IRS into Obama’s personal political goon squad) to the transcripts of illegal wiretaps, the web of lies that will define Obama’s disastrous tenure has grown more tangled than Hillary Clinton’s Congressional testimony.

At this point, Obama and his henchmen have given up even a pretense of honesty. I suppose they think the low-information types upon whom their authority rests will give them the same get-out-of-disgrace-free card they’ve abused since 2009. Someone ought to remind them: Fonzie may have successfully jumped the shark, but he still got canceled.

–Ben Crystal

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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  • independent thinker

    Excellent assessment of the goings on in DC Ben.

    • Alfred Ferguson

      Also, if memory of that ancient history serves, wasn’t that character on the show an object of mildly dismissive contempt?
      The line between self-infatuation and absurdity is easily, handily crossed.

      Obama appears to have eagerly leaped over it.

      No modesty. No self-regulatory perspective. No sense of what is suitable to the time or occasion, and what is not. What the French call a “parvenue”; what my 14-year-old nephew calls “a real loser”.

      Taken all-in-all, President Obama is a rather pathetic figure.

      • Nadzieja Batki

        Rather pathetic figures also can also do quite a bit of damage to people in their vindictiveness. Carefully think about the adage that “hell hath no fury as a woman scorned” and apply it to O.

        • John Douglas

          To paraphrase a line from ‘As good as it gets’: “He’s
          an absolute horror of a human being”

  • Vigilant

    Ben says, “I suppose they think the low-information types upon whom their authority rests will give them the same get-out-of-disgrace-free card they’ve abused since 2009.”

    That’s the cue to Flashy, nc, KG, Jeff, No Brain Thinker, et. al., to come out of the woodwork.

    They are late this morning. Talking points must have been delayed in the e-mail.

    • Gary


    • Nadzieja batki

      They may come here late and be in a repackaged ideology. Then too the semester is over for most colleges and they don’t have to come here to get a grade.

      • Big Richard

        is english you trird or forth lanugage? It’s probably better that we can’t undersatnd you since you come off like a bitter old moron.

        • speedle

          Big Richard, if I were you I wouldn’t be criticizing someone’s grasp of the language until you learn how to spell and use caps.

  • Warrior

    This is exactly how Chicago politics is played. A whole lot of lieutenants and “governors” get jail time for covering for their “progressive leader”.

  • Elevenarrows

    It would be funny were it not so sad and having such a huge impact on the future of our country.
    I’ve become so cynical, I doubt ANYONE will suffer any consequences for their actions…I should clarify…any administration personnel. The rest of us, of course, suffer consequences.
    My family plays a game where every time we see someone still displaying a bumper sticker supporting Obama, we go out of our way to get a good look at the person driving the car. We vacillate between feeling sorry for them and feeling disgusted by them.

    • Farleyagain

      Really? Eleven arrows! Good for you! Teach those kids to shoot; they will need to know.

  • Eva

    Maybe Obama fed his shark too much, and now it is too large for him to jump!!
    Then the shark swallows him whole!!

  • Arkham

    Shark jumpers are legion in government – both parties. Many have descended into self parody and are more like side show freaks than responsible public servants. The present administration is filled with them as is the GOP. Conservatives must be vigilant about the likes of Michelle Bachmann and other loonies in the House whose irrational ravings discredit serious conservative thought.

    God knows that we need serious cerebral conservative leadership.

    • Farleyagain

      Uncle Joey jumps the shark every time he opens his mouth.