"Jumping the shark" is a popular phrase around Hollywood. It refers to the old tv series Happy Days, when the previously cool character Arthur Fonzerelli, "The Fonz," resorts to water-skiing over a shark to prove his bravery. Although the series continued another seven years after that absurd episode, it never recovered.
On the day after the over-hyped Super Bowl with it's macho ads and lousy halftime show and reminder of the Katrina disaster, America seems to be in the same place as Fonzie. These past few weeks have been filled with a combination of moments that make it seem our country will never return to its former glory. A few of them:
--Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts took away the 6oth Democratic vote, dashing a filibuster-proof majority by winning the seat of Ted Kennedy, the icon who made a lifetime commitment to healthcare.
--Healthcare reform is on life support, with a weak endorsement from the president.
--Three top intelligence officers testified that it was "certain" our country would suffer an attempted terrorist attack in the next three to six months. Our intelligence is less effective than a google search and our security seems to be playing catch up with terrorists, depending on luck and citizen intervention.
-- The bank/finance industry continues offering gargantuan bonuses to the very ones who led us into this Great Recession.
-- The stock market has been dropping for four straight weeks and a double-dip recession seems imminent as Europe goes into economic crisis.
-- Foreclosures remain up; unemployment hovers at 10 percent; small businesses continue closing at a high rate.
-- With an upcoming deficit of 1.3 trillion dollars, Moody's investor service may reduce the US government's triple A rating in the next decade without a major cut back of the deficit or a faster than expected recovery.
-- We remain in two wars, with no clear end in sight. Iraq has once again heated up with suicide bombers. Pakistan is tottering -with nuclear bombs at the ready -- and North Korea remains lethal and uncommunicative.
-- We seem unable or unwilling to broker a peace between Israel and Palestine.
-- The 24/7 media rarely digs beneath the headlines and focuses on sex and celebs du jour over meaningful reporting.
-- In a recent Daily Kos poll, much of the Republican party wants to secede, believes Obama is not a citizen and that he should be impeached.
-- The caliber of our leaders is astoundingly weak. Snarky Sarah ("palm points") Palin has not ruled out running for president in 2012 and has a steady fan base of maybe 20 percent of the Republican party. And the last two Democratic vice-presidential candidates are now reviled by their own party.
-- Republican Senator Richard Shelby from Alabama has been able to hold up all the president's 70 current government appointees because of his pique about local pork.
--The Republicans remain unwavering obstructionists; the Democrats, even with a broad Congressional majority and a still-popular president, remain spineless.
-- The Supreme Court's surprising ruling that corporations can spend unlimited amounts on campaign financing assures that the spinelessness and debt to the corporate interests will not only continue, but increase.
Like Fonzie, America is careening on waterskis, wearing a life preserver over a leather jacket, jumping over a shark. Hell (or "heck" as possible President Palin would say), make that a whole bunch of sharks.
And seriously folks, the show may go on for years, the cast of characters may change, the plot lines may vary, but some of us are beginning to feel that our stable, safe, powerful Happy Days as a nation may be over.
Follow Lea Lane on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lealane