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Hail to the Chick

Last night, I saw my third episode of "Commander In Chief" (well, 2 and 1/2, if you count my dozing through the middle of the pilot). Not that it deserves it, however. So far, I've noticed two trends in the show that strike me as wrong.

First, the military has played a prominent role in all three episodes. In the pilot, Marines were sent in to rescue a Nigerian woman about to be executed by her government. Last night, the Air Force was sent to strike at coca fields in a fictional Latin American country's coca crop and drug labs. And in the second episode, President Allen chose as her vice president a retired general.

Now, as has been said by many people many times, the primary function fo the military is to "kill people and break things." So far, they've been used as international police, with a bit of weed-control tossed in. It's like the show's creators are so eager to show President Allen is just as tough as a man could be, by waving the big stick of the armed forces as often as possible.

Secondly, there is a whole aspect of the presidency that has, to me, been getting extremely short shrift -- and that's the Cabinet. The heads of the various executive departments are key advisers to the president, as well as their duties in overseeing their departments. Last night we saw the Attorney General discuss the matter of meddling with the head of a sovereign government (a general who had led a coup against a democratically-elected president), but purely to shoot down the President's idea of arresting him. Later, in her planning of the military strikes, I didn't notice anyone identified as the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, or National Security Advisor -- all of whom should have had input on the decision, or at least been present and aware of the planning.

I can see why the producers have avoided showing the Cabinet, however. President Allen is an Independent, and her antagonist is the Republican Speaker of the House. But the president she succeeded was a Republican, and it is highly likely that the Cabinet she inherited was also almost universally Republican, and loyal to various degrees to her predecessor and his policies. By omitting the Cabinet, it lets the rivalry with the Speaker stand in stark contrast -- he's someone she can't fire, unlike her Secretaries. Also, dramatically, it cuts a level of management and allows her to be SuperPresident, giving orders directly to the various government agencies without going through the head of each Department.

I think ABC has a winner here, with this show. Not that it deserves it, but it hits all the right buttons in Hollywood: the tough woman standing up to the arrogant, sexist Republican; the use of the military to do anything but actually fight and kill; and the working mother having it all in the ultimate sense: Mommy still has time for the kids (still working on the balance) while still having the ultimate career. I predict that it will last at least two seasons.

Comments (31)

Sounds like a good analysis... (Below threshold)

Sounds like a good analysis, JayTea, based on your description of its script content. I wouldn't know; my interest level to watch such obvious propaganda for Hillary's campaign was zero. There's better entertainment and politics here at Wizbang - besides, I prefer the company of men :)

When I was little girl, I remember my dad teasingly saying: You know how you can tell a good movie? When there's no women in it! What he used to call a good "skop, skiet en donder" movie (kick, shoot and thunder... with a certain cockiness - "Donder jou" akin to giving someone the finger). And then I'd go into peels of laughter and counter with Romeo and Juliet, Sound of Music, Elvis in Blue Hawaii...

Now Dick Morris' new book I might find time to read. Drafting Condi for 2008 becomes more appealling the more I think about it. Not because I'm a woman and want a woman as President; I want to see continuity of policy, especially in regard to the Middle East and handling terrorism worldwide. So Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice would all be welcome on my list, especially if her election would also ensure no Hillary in 2008. It's a shame that this subject even has to come up here in 2005, only the first year of Pres. Bush's second term, but it's driven by things like that TV show.

BR has brought up an intere... (Below threshold)

BR has brought up an interesting point, Jay Tea. This may have been floated as the "help Hillary" show, but it may actually help Dr. Rice, who is out there doing executive style things and is given face time in foreign locales with foreign leaders.

Could backfire. Which would be the funniest gag ever.

Jay, I think that Geena Dav... (Below threshold)

Jay, I think that Geena Davis was a good selection to play that particular role in this show. She is an actress that seems to me to have the natural acting ability to project class, self-control and composure (maybe she is that way in real life too). I have also, like others, entertained the idea that this show is positive propaganda for the image of a woman President. Of course, I too followed the logical thread that it is particularly for Hillary's benefit. But considering that this show to this point is weighted toward foreign affairs incidents to carry the political story line, you'd have to say that if it having that intended image effect, then Condi must benefit also. Do you know how this show is doing in the ratings? I just hope Ms. Davis doesn't come to think that she is the real POTUS like Martin Sheen does.

I don't watch this show; I'... (Below threshold)
Frank H:

I don't watch this show; I'm not going to watch this show. So therefore I'm thankful for JT's analysis. It tends to validate my disinterest. To your comment on the show being a hit (well, successful anyway) and lasting two seasons, I'd really like to see how many of the viewers are men. It seems like every six months or so I read an article by TV execs lamenting the absence of thier male audience. It's exactly this kind of programming that makes me search the channels for a fight, er, I mean a hockey game.

Military hotting a cocoa fi... (Below threshold)

Military hotting a cocoa field? Actually, that is quite plausible and has actually occurred. Not often, but a few fields in Columbia were the receipients of a Mk-82 or two to send messages to some of the local drug lords.

I'll give that one a pass...

Rescue a Nigerian woman from a hit squad? Again, Plausible IF and ONLY IF she was either an American citizen or a foreign dignitary we supported. If she was just an ordinary citizen of Nigeria being executed according to their law we wouldn't do it. It's a "feel good" kind of thing and mostly "Hollywood".

As for planning military operations without the SecDef and NSA chain of command is just blantly stupid. Hollywood still thinks LBJ is President apparently, or think he was the proper model. Washington learned long ago to let the experts plan war fighting and they can deal with politics.

Do I watch the show? No. But not out of any political reasons. I don't watch much TV at all. Perhaps the odd special on History Channel or Discovery, or my guilty pleasure of cheap, Roger Corman sci-fi movies and anything with over-dubbed extreme kung-fu action.

Now, as has been said by... (Below threshold)

Now, as has been said by many people many times, the primary function fo the military is to "kill people and break things." So far, they've been used as international police, with a bit of weed-control tossed in.

That's mostly how liberals view the military, anyway. They fear and loathe military power and so there is a commensurate ignorance on their part as to how to best use it, and when. Imagine what a colossal blunder it would be if the US actually did, in real life now, not just on TV, invade Nigeria because it was executing one of its own citizens and the president didn't approve of it.

It's like the show's creators are so eager to show President Allen is just as tough as a man could be, by waving the big stick of the armed forces as often as possible.

Exactly. Liberals know they have zero credibility on defense and military issues so the best they can do is create a fantasy world in which they don't. The Left West Wing does this all the time.

I don't buy the "help Hilla... (Below threshold)

I don't buy the "help Hillary" line at all -- I hate the bithc, and I've watched the first two episodes and see no sense of sympatico with her --

I find the writing somewhat stilted though -- nowhere near as good as West Wing, even now. Geena Davis is a very good actress, but even she can't deliver some of that dialogue with elan.

But nytcase that he is, you... (Below threshold)

But nytcase that he is, you gotta hand it to Sutherland -- that Speaker is one Machiavellian, evil bastard.

I don't watch TV, for both ... (Below threshold)

I don't watch TV, for both political and non-political reasons (but I guess in reality it's all political). There's just nothing worth watching - or so little that I'm content to wait for the DVD set and watch it on my computer. Why is this so? IMHO it's due to the unimaginative, dogmatic, self-styled "liberals" who run the MSM.

*putting soap box away*

Yeah, sounds like you've nailed it. I hope Mikey's prediction is right! I like Condi.

I agree. This show is a ve... (Below threshold)
D. Doré:

I agree. This show is a veiled attempt to get the public comfortable and used to seeing a woman as president.

It feels a little ominous, doesn't it? (Not a woman being president, but all the moving parts throughout the country that are just starting to gear up to put Hillary in the White House.) The election is about 3 years away, and already I'm feeling paranoid!

It's funny how many people ... (Below threshold)

It's funny how many people agree with your assessment of the show without having watched it. That's the kind of lockstep thinking we like to see. What I find laughable is what paranoid freaks so many right wingers are. You control all three branches of government and still think the whole world's out to get you. As I've said before, Cap Cities/ABC is a large corporation, and not particularly liberal. It's also desperately trying to stay on the good side of a Republican FCC.I wouldn't be surprised if many if not most of the people associated with the show are liberals of various stripes, but guess what? THEY DON'T MAKE THE DECISION TO PUT THE SHOW ON THE AIR! That show is on for two reasons: It will appeal to women, and The West Wing was a smash hit. Every hit show gets copied. The one name I see as every conservative's dream candidate is Condi Rice. The apparent front-runner for the Dems is Hillary Clinton. They're both women. But of course that big bad media is doing all of this for Hillary's benefit. Has it occurred to you that they see that this is the first election where a woman candidate is being seriously discussed by both parties? Cap Cities/ABC does not risk tens of millions of dollars to air a show because they think it's good propaganda.

And by the way, it's not a documentary. If they showed a compeltely true to life depiction of decision making in the White House it wouold be the most boring show on televison. They do what works for pacing and the flow of the story. If they need a cabinet member to move the story along, then they'll use one.

Of course there's no cabine... (Below threshold)

Of course there's no cabinet but I've got some cast and plot suggestions to include them.

Pam Anderson as FEMA head is inspecting beach devastation after Pres Hilary successfully stopped Hurricane Karl from his racist plot to devastate black neighborhoods. In the musical montage when FEMA Head checks out the beach in her one piece she is kidnapped by the evil fascist God Squad. CIA Director Carmen Elektra then must personally go to save her from the perverted clutches of the God Squad who are seeking revenge since their hurricane plot was foiled. Then HHS director Pigface Janeen Garofolo will personally deliver relieve to all the poor displaced people and escort them to their new homes and the city is renamed New Utopia.

You had me with you until y... (Below threshold)
Robert Modean:

You had me with you until you put in Garafolo - maybe Kirsten Dunst as the non-confromist HHS director who's appointment was controversial because she was a renowkned college cheerleader and still likes to wear the outfit?

In the first episode, there... (Below threshold)

In the first episode, there was a meeting with the full cabinet, and the new president requested that ANYONE uncomfortable with her in charge was free to leave/resign with no acrimony. I think one cabinet member DID leave, but don't remember the circumstances.

Therefore, the existing cabinet members either HAVE decided to work with her, or are there to undermine her.

Thank goodness! This comme... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Thank goodness! This comment thread was getting almost dull until we had Chris come to save the day. No thread would be complete without a liberal chiming in to say that conservatives are paranoid, liberal media companies are not really liberal, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

Thanks, Chris! I was getting paranoid (Oh, No!!) that you libs weren't paying attention to Wizbang today.

'You had me with you until ... (Below threshold)

'You had me with you until you put in Garafolo - maybe Kirsten Dunst as the non-confromist HHS director who's appointment was controversial because she was a renowkned college cheerleader and still likes to wear the outfit?'

I'm down wit dat.

Hmmmm.Frankly if I... (Below threshold)


Frankly if I wanted to watch a tv series about a conflicted Democrat President in the White House having to deal with evil Republicans, I'd watch "West Wing".

Are they really breaking new ground with this series? No, not really.

But if this is breaking new ground then the next series is going to be with a *gay* conflicted Democrat President having to deal with evil Republicans.

And the one after that will be a black conflicted Democrat President having to deal with evil Republicans.

And the one after that will be a gay black conflicted Democrat President having to deal with evil Republicans.

etc etc etc etc.

Frankly I prefer watching the Military Channel.

President Sullivan!<p... (Below threshold)

President Sullivan!

... oh wait, he's not eligible ... so disappointed ...

"It's like the show's creat... (Below threshold)

"It's like the show's creators are so eager to show President Allen is just as tough as a man could be, by waving the big stick of the armed forces as often as possible."


Great post Jay. You stole my thoughts.

I rolled my eyes at the show last night and headed off to bed --- apparently an act of sexism to my mother who responded "What? Do you have a problem with a woman president?" ... just as the president's daughter wanted to visit her mommy but was told she needed an appointment. "Mommy's busy right now dealing with national security sweetheart."

Bah to the Hollywood pleasing presichick.

I doubt that it's got anyth... (Below threshold)

I doubt that it's got anything to do with Hillary (or Condi for that matter) other than the basic "a woman should be president" thing that's been going on ever since Ferraro was on the Dem ticket.

And I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that this is 100% a marketing decision and they're trying for as broad an appeal as possible.

I find the use of the military, as described, to be troublesome in the extreme but typical. I honestly don't know if Hillary has this attitude (and since there's a good chance she could win in 2008, I hope not) but it's why Kerry scared the crap out of me. Bill Clinton absolutely used the military this way, for all of that maybe Reagan did to, and certainly Carter did. And it's just *wrong*.

The show will last, no doub... (Below threshold)

The show will last, no doubt about that. But it will be like most every show on TV right now: on top for only a few weeks, decent for only a couple of years, then blah the rest of the time.

As far as drama shows go, the only one that has remained fresh, consistantly on top, and not lost any of it's original appeal is '24'.

And, oh yeah, all you liberals? '24' was created by and still produced by Republicans.

Did you all know that the c... (Below threshold)

Did you all know that the creator and Executive Producer of "Commander in Chief" was fired and replaced recently. Drudge ran a piece on it yesterday. It seems that Lurie wanted a story line where the President's elder daughter was having (I kid you not) "rough sex" with a Secret Service Agent in the back of a limousine.

Wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. That and the scene-chewing antics of Kyle Secord (who is great normally) in every "CIC" plug is enough to put me of watching. I don't want a President who is "worried about how to manage being a working mother". She (or he) shouldn't be distracted by something so trivial as that. Wait until your children are out of the house and on their own before you even consider taking on the role of CIC. Donald Southerland's Speaker may be a nefarious character, but he is absolutely right in his conviction that Geena Davis' character is ill-suited to the Presidency.

Frankly, I find it amazing that this "working mom" aspect would be such a prominent part of the show -- it seems like obvious pandering to its' female viewers. As an *somewhat* catty aside, Ms. Davis, the mother of a 5-year old daughter and twin 1-year old sons, can hardly be a very good working mother considering the brutal shooting schedule of network TV shows. Sounds like a bit of "psychological trasference" on her part, IMO.

Oh, silly me! And I though... (Below threshold)

Oh, silly me! And I thought it was just a TV show. As it happens, it is the only show I went out of my way to watch. WAY out of my way, in fact, what with no cable, electricity, water, etc. (thanks to Rita). We even ran out of MRE's!

Now, lessee if I understand... "C.I.C." is propaganda to promote a female as president, so it's obviously a liberal plot to support Hillary in 2008? But, you're offended when someone suggests you might be paranoid?

But, hey, what if it's a conservative plot to support Condi? Then if you don't watch it, you're not being a loyal Republican! Oh, what to do?!

GEEZ, it's a friggin' TV SHOW!!

If you wanna watch "24", go ahead, but don't go whining that "C.I.C." isn't realistic.

Hey, Sheik Yur Bouty:... (Below threshold)

Hey, Sheik Yur Bouty:

Excellent rebuttal. You very cleverly poked a hole in every one of my points. Well played, sir.

Sorry to disrupt the groupthink.

One thing that's caught my ... (Below threshold)

One thing that's caught my attention about this show is the lack of any input from the Democrats. The president orders the armed invasion of Nigeria in order to interfere with the legal process against one of their own citizens in that country and nobody objects? The president threatens to defoliate the entire agricultural base of a sovereign country unless they stage a coup to remove their leader and nobody objects?

Sure, I don't expect Sutherland's character to say anything, but where are the Democrats in all this? Heck, Davis makes Bush look like a pacifist. At least he got fig leaves from the Congress and the UN before invading Iraq.

As for Sutherland's character, I can't wait until next week when he ties Davis to the railroad tracks after forcing her to sign over the mortgage to the country. He's that well rounded.

Chris,Oh, I see. ... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:


Oh, I see. Those were points! Silly me. I thought they were pointless.

You begin by accusing us of being in 'lockstep' and 'paranoid freaks' and then complain when I don't debate your 'points'.

Um, OK. Try making your points without the ad hominem and see if you get a better response.

Jesus Christ, don't be so s... (Below threshold)

Jesus Christ, don't be so sensitive. I apologize for introducing ad hominem insults to this blog, where only the nicest things are ever said about liberals. And for the record, I said "what paranoid freaks so many right wingers are." That's hardly an ad hominem attack. Particularly since the post right before mine ended with the sentence "The election is about 3 years away, and already I'm feeling paranoid!"

And lockstep? Oh mercy me, such language. I'm getting the vapors. I can see how that would prevent you from seeing all of the points I made in the ensuing paragraphs.

I guess when I read "(liberals) fear and loathe military power and so there is a commensurate ignorance on their part as to how to best use it" I didn't realize that we were all playing nice. Belive me, there's a lot of name-calling on this board (from both sides) that's much worse than "paranoid freaks."

Okay, Chris, without assumi... (Below threshold)

Okay, Chris, without assuming that the reason liberals don't know how to use military power is because they fear and loathe it, can we at least agree that they don't know how to use it? Or at least a relatively large sub-set of liberals don't "get it." Oh, I don't expect you to agree or anything, but do you even get the point about the use of the military as portrayed in the show? Or does the "fear and loathe" thing prevent you from seeing the points in the ensuing comments?

"So far, they've been used as international police, with a bit of weed-control tossed in." This is what Jay Tea said... do you dispute this as being an accurate portrayal of how the military is used in the television show in question?

Now, it seems to me that a great many people believe that "war is always bad" and a great many people do, in fact, fear the military and fear the fact that we have people who's full time job is to study war and learn to do it better, to learn to kill people and break things *better*. How the sub-set of those people overlaps with the sub-set reasonably labled "liberal" I won't venture to say.

There is also a sub-set of people who seem to think that we can take this "evil",( necessary or otherwise,) of the military and war making capability and just use it a little bit. To use it as a police force in the world and a prod, not fully committed, to hold as a threat to make nations behave. In my experience, those people are often called Democrats.

The military isn't, and should never be, a "show" of force. The military *is* force. Sending a team in to rescue a foreign national (or even an American for that matter) from a sovereign government is every bit as much of a violation of sovereignty as sending the entire Marine Corps. But this idea that it's bad to invade, but okay to assassinate, or send special forces or drop a bomb or two (just so long as Americans don't get hurt) is a sure indication that the person doing the sending doesn't have a clue how to properly use the military.

The military should either be used properly or used NOT AT ALL.

Yes, yes, it's a television show, it's entertainment, but it's also a reflection of what the producers and writers think is how things work and what they think about the assumptions of the viewing audience.

I guess when I read "(li... (Below threshold)

I guess when I read "(liberals) fear and loathe military power and so there is a commensurate ignorance on their part as to how to best use it" I didn't realize that we were all playing nice. Belive me, there's a lot of name-calling on this board

My comment about Democrat cluelessness concerning military power was not an ad-hominem, but rather a defensible proposition. That some chose to view it as some sort of personal attack speaks volumes as to their mindset.

Woman president? All of a ... (Below threshold)

Woman president? All of a sudden that old joke comes to mind about having a problem trusting something that bleeds for 5 days out of every month and doesn't die ....

But why, in the name of God... (Below threshold)

But why, in the name of God, would anyone with an interest in entertainment programing without propaganda EVER watch the thing?

As with excellent dramtic tv programs like "West Wing", or (occasionally) warm and funny NPR like Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion", I have for many years now refused to reward with my patronage the producers of political and cultural propaganda that masquerades as entertainment, even if I might otherwise enjoy their productions. And in the case of Keillor's increasingly shrill and un-funny open partisanship, he doubles the insult by spewing his barely-disguised bitterness on a radio program which is publically supported! Daily Show? You gotta be kidding. South Park? I can get behind a program that pokes at everyone's foibles, regardless of political beliefs.

I'm serious: to promote and support entertianment which unfairly and intentionally promotes leftist theories and figures, and consistently shows contempt and disdain for my political principles, is self-defeating. I won't do it. Neither should we all.






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