If Obama is really serious about stimulating the economy, he'll take a cue from the folks who make network TV and boost his ratings with wife swapping. If he can get the leaders of France and Japan to play along, we might yet put a stake in the heart of the Great Recession of 2009.
Nothing seems to boost network ratings quite so much as reports of bizarre or sexual (or best of all, bizarre sexual) behavior in political figures. No one has yet calculated just how much of the boom in the 90s traced back directly to the rise of 24 hour news channels covering Clinton's sexual peccadilloes. We love our heroes but mostly we love to imagine we're superior to them.
In a couple of weeks, Japan will swear in a new prime minister. The big story is that the Japanese, weary of a decade of economic stagnation, have voted out their long-time ruling LDP to give the Democratic Party a chance. But the really interesting story is that the prime minister's wife claims to have visited Venus on a spaceship and to have known Tom Cruise in a former life (when he was Japanese). I can't help but feel fond of her in the same way that I can't help but like J.K. Rowling's character Luna Lovegood. I find these sorts of odd confessions fascinating, and don't think that I'm alone in this. If she were the American first lady, all forms of news media would likely be getting record ratings.
If Obama were to swap wives with Japan's new prime minister for a couple of months, he could then swap with Sarkozy, who, after being elected president of France, cashed in all his alpha male chips on a union with Carla Bruni, the gorgeous actor, singer, and occasional nude model. It is hard to imagine a one-two punch better for ratings than this quirky then sexy sequence.
Imagine the news coverage on this. NPR could explore the cultural clash as these iconic French, Japanese, and American figures adjusted to each other. They would likely even teach us some new foreign words and phrases. Fox News could throw in hints of misogyny and speak to the erosion of traditional values. The various outlets could explore different dimensions of this, from new recipes and dress styles in the White House to the different views of these exchange first ladies on American social programs and sports.
It would not matter too much whether Obama began with the Japanese or French first lady. The exact order is not important. Nor would it need to be limited to just Japan and France. I don't know too much about other first ladies, but surely a handful would hold our attention as much as these two. I just know that if Barack and Michelle are sincere about stimulating our economy, they would not quickly dismiss this bold suggestion. After all, if this nation's leaders are not going to listen to bloggers, how can we even call this a true democracy?