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Commander-in-chiffon

Last night, ABC aired the pilot for "Commander-in-Chief," the Geena Davis as president show that's been getting scads of hype lately. I planned to watch it, then write a little summary, touching on my own thoughts about a non-white-male presidency in the real world.

That was my plan. Unfortunately, I dozed off and missed a good chunk of the middle.

A few thoughts, though:

A Republican president picks an independent former two-term Congresswoman and college chancellor as his running mate? Please. Both political parties have plenty of women in their ranks; neither should have to go outside to find a veep.

The arguments over whether or not she should resign were pretty trite. "You can't in good conscience carry out the agenda of the President who was elected," "you're a girl and we need a man to do it," and "I'm a woman and I can do anything!" seemed to be the major points. Anyone chosen to run for vice-president has to know that they, at any moment, can become President. 14 Vice-presidents have gone on to become president, six of them on the death of the President.

And the ending was way, WAY over the top. In order to save a single foreign citizen from a brutal execution, she orders the United States Marines to invade the sovereign nation of Nigeria. That's just to show those sexist Muslim nations that a woman can be tough -- commit an act of war against them!

A lot of people are saying that this is a great victory -- it helps get the American people acclimated to the idea of a non-white-male as President. They've cited "Will And Grace" as an exemplar, of how that TV show got people more accepting of gay people.

Others have said that this is a thinly-veiled plug for Hillary Clinton's all-but-official 2008 campaign.

That's too cynical. I think they're just looking to score some ratings points. And they might succeed for a little while, but I don't think the series has legs.

However, that put me in mind of something I've been thinking about for years -- the idea of a member of a minority becoming president.

I thought it through a while ago, and came to a conclusion that a lot of others share:

The first woman president, or black president, or Hispanic president, or other non-white-male president, will be a Republican.

On the Democratic side, the leaders who aren't white males tend to wear that as a badge of honor, of distinction. "Vote for me, I'm a woman/black/Hispanic/gay!!" seems to be the key element in their campaigns. And a lot of the Right look at that and say "so what?" They don't want to know who you are, they want to know what you will do, and what you have done. For example, can anyone cite a single qualification or accomplishment of Hillary Clinton's before she moved to New York and ran for that Senate seat?

That also caters to one of the uglier legacies of the Civil Rights movement. Up until the 60's and Lyndon Johnson, the Democratic Party was the party of the hard-core racists. It still has a few remnants (Senator Byrd, please pick up the white courtesy phone), but the heirs of Lester Maddox, Bull Connor, and George Wallace fled the Democrats and tried to find a home in the GOP. They never were very welcome (witness the stiff-arming David Duke has received) and have never had any real influence, but that's where they set up their little camp.

Between those two elements, any minority who runs as a Democrat will energize those elements of the Right, and sway enough of the mainstream GOP and enough moderates to doom their campaign.

On the other hand, a Republican minority will instantly garner a significant base to build on simply by their party affiliation. They will also draw a LOT from the middle that decides elections. Finally, they will energize a good chunk of the far left, who will label them as "race traitors" and other vile terms, which will generate its own backlash and win them more sympathy from the middle.

I've seen that one personally. There's a black "community activist" in Boston named "Sadiki" who calls in to a lot of talk shows. Basically, if a story might have some sort of racial angle, you can count on Sadiki to fill up a good half-hour or so on his own, and the rest of the show with people answering him. I've heard him refer to "Semi-Colin Powell" and "Condoleezza White Rice" on several occasions. I can speak personally -- I have found myself supporting those two a smidgen more just because I know it would piss off Sadiki and others like him.

I'll even go a bit further. I think that a minority candidate will be nominated in 2008 by one of the two major parties.But I think they'll lose -- America isn't quite ready for that yet. But that defeat will energize the movement, and by 2020 we will elect our first non-white-male president. (My gut says 2016, but I feel like hedging my bets.)

And it will be in no way thanks to Geena Davis.


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Comments (35)

Except that in 2016, whites... (Below threshold)
LJD:

Except that in 2016, whites will be the minority. Although I'm not expceting any special benefits from bitter Democrats.

Did the show have Geena hoo... (Below threshold)

Did the show have Geena hooking up with a Brad Pitt-esgue intern?
Everytime I see her in a movie I can't help but see that scene in Thelma and Louise in the hotel., with the camera looking up over her hips and the ...

Let me get back to something safe for work...
Have you ever noticed how minoirites get to use their race as a "key element in their campaign" but a white guy had better be colorblind or face retaliation?

And how about the anger and "tired, divisive scare-mongering" that always permeates the Left but rarely finds any evidence with the Right?

ok just to throw in a coupl... (Below threshold)
bearslippers:

ok just to throw in a couple of ideas, Our present political structure is still based with terms like patriotism ( latin reference to Father) and Brothers in Arms ( you can figure that one out easily), two examples of the Maledominated politics. Now adding a woman to the mix can create many possibilities but I have one to add just from my own experience. Where I work I have a Manager and Asst Mgr. female and male respectively, Most of the time these two have identical attitudes about what is important Yet, I have actually heard management mention sexist jokes about each other to the staff when one does sometimething the other doesn't like,

Now adding a woman to a mix of men could make the same issues, blaming dissagreements or differences on opinions on concepts like boys will be boys or You are SO much a girl.

Personally, as long as sex remains an issue as to whether someone is elected, so shall remain the negatives and prejudgements ( prejudice is such a harsh word).

Thus we must only elect hermaphodites to office,

Does the commander-in-chiff... (Below threshold)

Does the commander-in-chiffon wear clothes made of chiffon??

"Bloom County" predicted th... (Below threshold)
joe:

"Bloom County" predicted this back in 1988. A white liberal in the strip couldn't bring himself to vote for Jesse Jackson in the presidential primary, even though "God knows I cherish black people" (the guy who wrote Bloom County was definitely liberal, but he made fun of them a lot, too). A black guy tells him to "chill out," that the first black president will be a conservative, and that he had voted for Al Haig.

Add my name to the list of ... (Below threshold)
handy:

Add my name to the list of middle aged white southern males that would vote for Condi, but not Hillary (or Maxine, or Jesse, or Al, or Louis...)

bearslippers, beer isn't <e... (Below threshold)

bearslippers, beer isn't really a breakfast drink. Might think about switching back to herbal tea, or even coffee.

I didn't watch it for sever... (Below threshold)
Jo:

I didn't watch it for several reasons. 1) Amazing Race started, 2) New season for Boston Legal and 3) -the main reason- Hollywood will never do justice to the white house with republican anything. I've already read a review that had Donald Sutherlands charactor practically wearing a GOP T-shirt and Evil Horns -- forget it .. wouldn't even waste VCR space for it.

In what quasi reality unive... (Below threshold)
ICallMasICM:

In what quasi reality universe would either of the 2 major parties run an independent as VP?

It seems many women will vo... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

It seems many women will vote for a women presidential candidate even if the candidate's politics don't match their own, and it's the same for race.

If Hillary runs in 2008, I predict we'll have our first women president. If Republicans don't what that women to be Hillary, they need to nominate Dr. Condoleezza Rice as the Republican candidate. Dr. Rice would not only neutralize the "women" issue, she would undermine the advantage Democrats have with black voters. It's only fitting that the first black president be of Abraham Lincoln's party, and if that person is also a women it will be a double first.

Not only would a President Rice be better for the country than a President Hillary, it should also put an end to the far left nonsense that any conservative black person is just some white man's house ... It's hard to make that claim when the top office in all the land is held by a black person. That could permanently undermine the Democrats' hold on black voters and that would be good for blacks and good for the country. Now if Condoleezza Rice has the chutzpah to run for president she'll have my vote.

So, next week, does it turn... (Below threshold)

So, next week, does it turn out she really invaded Nigeria for its oil?

The first woman presiden... (Below threshold)

The first woman president, or black president, or Hispanic president, or other non-white-male president, will be a Republican.

Yup. I've thought this for years.

Also, the over-the-top "inv... (Below threshold)

Also, the over-the-top "invade Nigeria" ending is evidence, if we even need more of it, that liberals do not understand military force. They hate it, they fear it, they don't understand it, so when they are finally forced by circumstances to use it, they lash out in wildly inappropriate and ultimately ineffectual ways. There is a time and place for invading a country. There is a time and place for a covert operation. Conservatives know the difference, and liberals don't.

Look at Ruffini's poll. Ric... (Below threshold)
yetanotherjohn:

Look at Ruffini's poll. Rice won last time and looks to win this time. If I had to predict a ticket for 2008, it would be Guiliani/Rice, though I would personally prefer Rice at the top.
Guiliani/Rice would be a balance between domestic and foreign policy experience. It would be the only ticket I could imagine that would have a reallistic chance of splitting NY off from the dems. If the dems loose either NY or CA, its all over for them in 2008.
I also think the Guiliani/Rice would play well in some of the major swing states (e.g. Michigan, Minnisota, Wisconson).

It strikes me funny ... (Below threshold)


It strikes me funny that 'African Americans' forget that Republicans were the anti-slavery party. In fact, a greater percentage of Republicans voted for Civil Rights Reform than Democrats. Former leader, Senator Byrd was a stinking KKK member.

Inherently, Republican are less racist than Democrat. By 'racist' I don't mean separate bathrooms and the like. A 'racist' is one who basis any decision on race. The inherently racist Affirmative Action is a sacrament of the Democratic party.

The values-voters base of the Republican party are people of faith. I've chronicled my own thoughts on race and faith here: http://rightfaith.blogspot.com/2005/08/faith-on-race.html

Before God, equality knows no race.

JR

I'll add that I also think ... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

I'll add that I also think it is likely that Condi Rice will be on the ticket in 2008. She is admired by Bush and has been a favored protege of Scowcroft - two conflicting views on US foreign policy. I am sure Scowcroft may be a tad disappointed in Rice's current positions but my guess is he stiil respects her enormously and she generally would have broad Republican support. I also think she is one classy lady - much, much more so than Hillary. That being said, I think she will be the VP nominee. I am trying to think of someone who would be a good complement to her as well as a strong on candidate on domestic issues which I think will be important in 2008. Maybe Guiliani fills the bill. I am not convinced he can automatically bring NY with him.

I did watch the entire show... (Below threshold)
Tym:

I did watch the entire show, and what I saw was Ms. Allen intimidated to the Nigerian ambassador that she WOULD invade Nigeria to rescue a woman [falsely] accused of adultery, to prevent the woman from being killed by burying her in sand to her neck, then stoning her.

The Nigerian ambassador saw that Ms. Allen was -serious-, and communicated same back to his government, whose themselves freed the prisoner (and her baby), and delivered her to a USNavy chopper.

I belive the point of this scene was to refute the Speaker's assertion of "those who don't want power have no idea how to use power".

While I'm not sure that Ms. Davis was the proper choice for the character, I'm awaiting further episodes to tell if I'll like the show.

Hey, the Godfather series w... (Below threshold)
frankr:

Hey, the Godfather series was on last night. What kind of ratings did Gina's series get in comparison? I never watch NBC, ABC or CBS anymore, as they only put out reality TV.

Hmmmm."Except that... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

"Except that in 2016, whites will be the minority. Although I'm not expceting any special benefits from bitter Democrats."

Hehe. Welcome to the club. Asians have been a minority-non-minority for a 100+ years.

You get used to it.

14 Vice-presidents have ... (Below threshold)

14 Vice-presidents have gone on to become president, six of them on the death of the President.

Minor factual quibble: eight VPs have gone on to become President after the death of a President. Tyler, Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Coolidge, Truman, Lyndon Johnson. However the total number of VPs who became President is 14.

Only four sitting VPs have been elected President: John Adams, Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, and George H.W. Bush. Ford became Prez when Nixon resigned. Nixon himself was a former VP before becoming President.

I belive the point of th... (Below threshold)
BrianOfAtlanta:

I belive the point of this scene was to refute the Speaker's assertion of "those who don't want power have no idea how to use power".

Good point, but considering how inappropriate it was to invade a sovereign nation to prevent them from enforcing their laws upon one of their own citizens, the Speaker turned out to be right.

The oddest thing to me about the episode, though, was watching this Republican president and staff spouting Democratic talking points. The pitch the president gave Mack to recruit her and the reasoning of Mack's own advisors left me scratching my head. I was reminded of watching "The Longest Day" while I was in Augsburg, Germany, with the Allied troops coming ashore and everyone speaking German. Surreal.

...but the heirs of Lest... (Below threshold)
mantis:

...but the heirs of Lester Maddox, Bull Connor, and George Wallace fled the Democrats and tried to find a home in the GOP. They never were very welcome...

Yeah, Thurmond and Lott never were welcomed by the GOP. That's funny.

Remind me again, mantis, wh... (Below threshold)
Lurking Observer:

Remind me again, mantis, which party has a Grand Kleagle of the KKK (that is, somebody who recruited more members) as one of its Senators?

And which party did Fritz Hollings and Bull Connor stay with?

That's funny, too.

I offer no defense of Byrd ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

I offer no defense of Byrd or any other racists, Democrat or otherwise. I also didn't claim the Democrats never welcomed racists or segregationists in their party, as Jay did with the Republicans. Do you see the difference?

I can believe this is defin... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

I can believe this is definitely connected to Hillary's bid.

I believe it tries to depict the idea of a woman president as a inherently good & noble thing. Which it isn't inherent that way, imho.

It is also exploiting the Hillary bid since the topic of a 'woman president' will come up and help the show's ratings.

In short, both parties have... (Below threshold)
mantis:

In short, both parties have had and continue to have racists in them, and anyone who claims that their party hasn't tolerated them is full of shit.

What is more interesting to me is to look at who has been elected by voters in those parties. I know Jay thinks the first minority president will be a Republican, but let me ask you this: What is the highest elected office that a minority Republican currently holds? If i'm not mistaken it is the Lieutenant Governer of Maryland. No senators, no representatives, no governors. Does that make Republicans racists? No, but it does give you some idea of the party's demographic makeup and candidate preferences, doesn't it?

24 has had a black POTUS fo... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

24 has had a black POTUS for a couple of years and no one seems concerned about it. The guy does a great job in the part and I completely accept him as POTUS.

As far as this show being a... (Below threshold)
mantis:

As far as this show being a plug for Hillary '08, it should be noted that the director and executive producer of the show is Rod Lurie, who made a film called The Contender about a female VP before Clinton was elected Senator. It seems his interest in fictional women in the White House has little to do with any particular politician, but maybe not.

...Rod Lurie, who made a... (Below threshold)

...Rod Lurie, who made a film called The Contender about a female VP before Clinton was elected Senator. It seems his interest in fictional women in the White House has little to do with any particular politician, but maybe not.

The Contender had nothing to do with a female politician per se, but rather it was Lurie's fulsome defense of Bill Clinton's sexual peccadillos. And it appears that now with his show he's pimping Hillary in 08.

The ratings were pretty substantial, I hear, but that may be because ABC hyped it like crazy. I kind of doubt it has any real staying power, but what do I know?

The Contender had nothin... (Below threshold)
mantis:

The Contender had nothing to do with a female politician per se, but rather it was Lurie's fulsome defense of Bill Clinton's sexual peccadillos.

I'm not sure how you can come to that conclusion considering that Clinton actually had sexual peccadillos, whereas the Joan Allen character in the film was being untruthfully maligned. That is, unless you think that Lurie believes Clinton's indescretions were made up, which is highly doubtful. I think Lurie's point was more that any woman who were to run for president would have her sexual history (real or invented) used against her in a much more aggressive way than a male candidate would. I think you're tangentially correct in that Lurie was clearly criticizing Republicans for their obsession with other people's sex lives (I'm not saying that Democrats aren't similarly obsessed). Gary Oldman was very critical of the released version of the movie for making his conservative character too evil, and I think rightly so.

I think you're tangenti... (Below threshold)

I think you're tangentially correct in that Lurie was clearly criticizing Republicans for their obsession

This is a more accurate formulation of the point I was trying to make. The Contender was Lurie's little morality play that came out not too long after the time of the Lewinski brouhaha and impeachment hearings, etc., and the point was that those eeeevil Republicans ought to have left Bill Clinton alone. I still say that it was such a transparantly obvious parable given the historical context.

Gary Oldman was very critical of the released version of the movie for making his conservative character too evil, and I think rightly so.

Yeah, I seem to recall Oldham being absolutely livid about this, only I lost the reference and I can't remember what exactly he had to say about it.

This show is little more th... (Below threshold)
Nahanni:

This show is little more then ABC's attempt to promote Hillary Clinton, make no mistake about that. You have to remember that THIS is how the LLL's in Hollywood and at ABC New York truly see Hillary and Republicans for that matter. They are wearing the LLL/ABC version of Beer Goggles.

You will see pure partisanism in this show in a two parter they have scheduled for November sweeps. It is about a hurricane destroying Miami. Sound familiar?

BOA -'The oddest t... (Below threshold)
ICallMasICM:

BOA -

'The oddest thing to me about the episode, though, was watching this Republican president and staff spouting Democratic talking points. '

Actually that's not really odd. The one thing that Goldberg points out in Bias is that the unintentional media bias stems from complete lack of knowledge of the opposing position and the complete dedication to the POV that there are 2 sides to every issue the stardard lib side and the wrong side.

This is crazy. Do you guys ... (Below threshold)
Chris:

This is crazy. Do you guys honestly believe that a major network adds a show to its schedule and heavily promotes it for any reason other than it will garner ratings and attract advertisers? For all your ridiculing of Hillary's "vast right wing conspiracy" it sure seems that all of the conspiracy talk comes from the right. All these major corporations are secretly Democratic sympathizers who will risk their businesses to afflict the Republicans. The poor, beleaguered Republicans who only control every branch of governement. I think I'm getting a little misty worrying about you guys. Why don't you stop feeling so sorry for yourselves? I really don't think CapCities/ABC is that relentlessly Democratic. All we've seen in the last few years is major media companies kowtowing to the Administration because they're trying to stay on the good side of the FCC. It's all about ratings, licenses and stock price for those guys. Get real. I believe the entire reason this show is on TV is because of a little drama called "West Wing." And no, not because of its liberal politics, but because it was a ratings blockbuster. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they made her a Republican because Bartlett was a Democrat. They didn't want to take the heat of having another Democratic president in their show.

And OregonMuse, this made me laugh: "Also, the over-the-top "invade Nigeria" ending is evidence, if we even need more of it, that liberals do not understand military force." OK repeat after me- it's only a TV show, it's only a TV show. It isn't evidence of anything. It's called fiction. Writers use elements like that because they're stark and easily understood. Undertaking a covert operation would not have fulfilled their need to show that Geena Davis was capable of being tough, which they needed to do for story purposes. They're not actually making public policy.

And one other thing; why is... (Below threshold)
Chris:

And one other thing; why is it that we're critical of the fact that blacks will vote for a black candidate and women will vote for a woman candidate, but not that whites will vote for a white candidate and men will vote for a male candidate? Remember how George Bush was the candidate people felt more comfortable with? Why is it so bad if you feel more comfortable with a candidate who's the same race or gender as you?




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