April 28, 2004

Baby for Bid

ABC television soon will air a “very special” edition of "20/20" titled, “Be My Baby.” Barbara Walters will host the program which will let viewers watch five married couples grovel before 16-year-old Jessica Bohne, vying for the right to adopt her newborn baby boy. Think of it as a reproductive version of “The Apprentice.” The teen holds all the power, and the married couples must do everything possible to make a good impression during a single, 30-minute interview.

The drama unfolded last fall, which means that the deal already has been done. Four couples walked away devastated, and the fifth got the “prize,” which happens to be a human being. The whole thing, at least judging from the advance publicity, looks like a swap meet in which human flesh is the prize and raw human emotions the currency with which couples do their bidding.

I find it creepy that a teen, who cannot have any significant appreciation of what it takes to be a parent, should have such power. Jessica didn’t ease those worries when she confessed to an ABC promotional writer, “I was basically deciding if they’re going to have children or not. I was kind of playing God.”

Not surprisingly, the network has taken a great deal of heat for its cheesy marketing of the show, which it has promoted as a reality TV nail-biterThe critics are right. Check out some of the ad copy produced by ABC itself:

 “So who will Jessica choose? … 20/20 cameras are there as Jessica tells the winning family her decision. But this is not the end … Jessica is still not sure she will be able to give up her son…. Under Ohio law she must wait 72 hours before making up her mind. According to research, 30 percent of all birthmothers change their minds before they sign. And even Jessica’s mother, who had initially pushed for adoption, wasn’t ready for the love she felt for her first grandchild.
 “In the end, who will raise the little baby boy? There are many surprises along the way.”

The Pledge and the Dodge

The always colorful Rep. Jim McDermott has stirred the hornet’s nest again – this time by omitting the words “under God” this Tuesday as he led fellow House members in their daily recititation of the Pledge of Allegiance.  McDermott explained to Fox News Capitol Hill producer Jim Mills that he has never used the words, having learned the pledge long ago, and that he stumbled because he was uncertain where the matter stood in the court.

He should have stuck with the first part of the explanation. He knows exactly where the matter stands – the Supreme Court is reviewing a California appeals court decision that would strike “under God” from the pledge. More importantly, he knows where he stands. The House of Representatives in recent years has passed two resolutions in support of “under God.” McDermott voted “present” on the first, and was one of just seven House members last year to vote against a resolution condemning the California court’s verdict.

The Newest New John Kerry

If you have heard John Kerry the last couple of days, you’ll notice that he has started to adopt a folksier demeanor, especially by dropping g’s – as in, “You’re tryin’ to make ends meet.” A couple stories cast doubt on the depth of his populism, though. The New York Times carries a profile of Kerry’s “chief of stuff,” 32-year-old Marvin Nicholson Jr., who has to schlep around Kerry’s sandwiches, and personal items (but not toothpaste, that duty apparently relegated to a valet-trainee), as well as to help the candidate tumble to sleep in the evening and rise in the morning. The piece notes straight-facedly: “Mr. Kerry is comfortable being catered to.”

Speaking of which, The Washington Times has a small item about the senator’s reportedly paying more than 1-thousand bucks for a haircut before his recent appearance on 'Meet the Press." The item, which first appeared on The Drudge Report provoked a predictable response from Team Kerry: A spokeswoman dismissed the piece as a “right-wing” hit job. Meanwhile, Fox has confirmed from non-Kerry-campaign sources that the senator did indeed fly a stylist to Pittsburgh for an emergency tonsorial session.