TelevisionWeek is teaming up with TV industry veteran Marianne Paskowski. The blog will give Marianne a forum to convey her deep knowledge of the industry and pass along some of the juicy morsels she's hearing on the grapevine. Marianne has covered the TV industry from the inside out and top to bottom, and TVWeek's readers are bound to benefit from her sharp eyes, ears and wit. TVWeek.com invites readers to jump online, chime in and pick Marianne's brain on the latest industry news.


Marianne Paskowski

Bush Inks Stimulus Bill With a Smirk

February 13, 2008 12:52 PM

With much flourish, a smirking President George W. Bush signed a bill today that would give rebate checks to many middle-class taxpayers in May, in the hopes of stimulating our anemic economy.

So what was with the smirk and his nervous laughter? I saw that hoked-up ritual on the news today and once again concluded that the outgoing president has the TVQ of a haystack.

Yes, TV cameras are cruel, but that’s what media coaches get paid big bucks to fix. Take presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.: He knows how to make love to the camera, as he demonstrated again in his primary victory speech last night.

By contrast, GOP contender Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also a winner in last night’s primary races, looked like he was ready to go to bed, and yes, maybe too darn old to run the country.

But TVQ isn’t everything. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had great on-air charisma, but he pulled out of the race.

So are American voters shallow, paying too much attention to the sizzle and not the steak?

Probably, but there is an element of show business in politics, for better or worse.


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Comments (8)

Andy S.:

"So what was with the smirk and his nervous laughter? I saw that hoked-up ritual on the news today and once again concluded that the outgoing president has the TVQ of a haystack."

I've observed this kind of behavior on Bush's part many times during his presidency. More than any president I can recall, Bush evinces a thorough disdain for even the most basic communication tasks of his office. I believe this results from a combination of utter ineptitude and an attitude of arrogance that leads him to the conclusion that he needn't bother to respect the privileges and responsibilities of his office. Both qualities are certainly hallmarks of his administration.


Hi Marianne,

I know this may come as a shock but I don't think TV has as much affect on the voting public as you might think. Yes, I am truly offended by the behavior of our president before TV audiences but I've been offended by him before and for more justifiable reasons than his TVQ. All TV does is reinforce opinions the viewers held before watching TV. Those that hate particular politicians will point to those TV instances that bolster their opinions and ignore those that don't. The same holds true for those with contrary opinions. The more interesting and mysterious question is how the viewing public forms its opinions. I would like to think that it is the result of some rational and intelligent examination of issues but, alas, I am a realist and know better. In our present presidential race it may be about continuing the war or ending it; it may be a matter of race vs gender; it may be about youth vs maturity; or it may be about who makes the best backroom deal before the convention. TV, however, will not be there for the voters when the important stuff is being hashed out and we will be stuck with what the politicans are willing to let us have. W isn't the only politician with a smirk he's just the only one that doesn't have to hide it.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Shady,

TVQ is a factor if your remember the Nixon/Kennedy televised debates. That exposure won the race for a Catholic from Mass. who wasn't supposed to win.

When people tell me they are supporting Obama, they tell me he's a great speaker. So far, I'm seeing more sizzle than steak from Obama. Listening to his acceptance speech last nite was akin to being at a pep rally.

No succinct plans, but maybe that was not the time and place, after all he was making a victory speech.

Unfortunately TVQ is part of the political fabric, right or wrong.

Thanks for the thought provoking post,


Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Andy,

George W Bush will go down in history for what you articulated so succinctly. And this country of TV watching morons elected him not once but twice.

I correct myself, he did steal the election from Gore in the Florida vote recount with the help of brother Jeb.

Keep on coming back Andy,


Yo, Blondie --

Too bad that my favorite blogger misses the point. Bush's well-calculated smirking ropes in the rubes who figure Bush is a safe enough jerk to have a beer with. God forbid members of the great unwashed who elected Bush twice would wind up tippling with Al Gore, who's smart enough to say something worth listening to. When you're insecure because you know you're stupid, Bush is the ideal drinking buddy. He can never make you feel inferior by comparison.

Cruisin not Bruisin

Marianne Paskowski:

Nice to see you back, even though you dis me. His smirk isn't calculated, it's in his messenger RNA.

Hope you're not drinking with George W. Bush, which I doubt. Good point about his popularity, he, Bush, can never make you feel inferior.

Thanks for the post, and come back often, we miss you!


Jeff Mulligan:


Not only the public, but the entire government is enraptured with sizzle rather than steak. Putting spare cash in the pockets of consumers can help the economy -- if they get it now instead of in May -- but that politically safe gambit can't have as much of an effect as a similarly priced package of job creation and business equipment investment incentives.

I'm not talking about the fairy tales Bushies and so-called "supply siders" peddle when they push untargeted tax cuts. I'm talking investment tax credits for business, job credits, and the like. Even IRA contribution matches for taxpayers would do more to build wealth and get us out of the recession than giving $600 to each adult to waste on some fleeting service purchase or groceries.

Sure Bush smirked. Bush (maybe not him personally, he's not bright enough, but Cheney and the plutocrats manipulating the government) know that they're peddling snake oil to economic naifs.


Marianne Paskowski:


Not only the voters, government and now Wall Street are all more interested in sizzle than steak.

Frankly, I'm disappointed with news gathering organizations who fail to reveal more about the presidential candidates.

I guess the good news is that Romney, great teeth, Hollywood looks, shit-bucket track record, pulled out.

Thanks for your insightful post,


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