Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dangerous Presidents: Truth is Stranger Than Fiction on Monday's Prime Time

Et tu, Fox TV?

Last night was a triple-header for Fox in prime-time. Rupert Murdoch's network scheduled Mr. Bush's presidential address about Immigration Policy right before the season finale of Prison Break and the lead-up to the two-hour conclusion of 24 (known in some circles as the Jack Bauer Power Hour).

Thus TV viewers were invited to enjoy two hours-and-twenty minutes of Presidents conducting Machiavellian machinations. Was it live? Or was it Memorex? (Maybe we should ask CNN that question, since the network inadvertently aired footage of the President rehearsing his speech...)

Now, I don't want to get political on this blog, because it's about entertainment not politics, but sometimes entertainment legitimately concerns politics, and I find it ironic that the main plot line or "story arc" on both Prison Break and 24 involves run-amok Presidents, the newly-sworn-in President Steadman on the former; President Charles Logan on the latter.

One has committed high-treason to gain her office; and one has abused his power to target an agent who is on the job stopping a terror threat (and no, I'm not talking about Valerie Plame...) President Steadman believes in the "free market" and doesn't want to punish Oil Companies for being successful...and boy does that rhetoric sound uncomfortably familiar! And Logan, replete with a glazed-looking wife, regularly puts himself above the law. Again, these characteristics are a little too close for comfort...

The point, I suppose, is that poor President Bush unknowingly joined this line-up of scoundrels. Watching his ridiculous address last night, it was darn tough to know where fiction ended and fact began.

I mean, whose brilliant idea was it to send out our President into the chaotic terrain of prime time with a plan to send 6,000 National Guard to secure the border...with Mexico? That's nearly as lame as Logan's plan to foster terrorism so he can secure foreign oil fields, isn't it? And then the 'real" President did a flip flop before our very eyes (remember that jibe?) and offered a kind of quasi-amnesty for illegals (I mean, path to citizenship). So why not be honest and just call a spade a spade and say that this is - for all intents and purposes - Amnesty? Maybe Bush should have called it a "Clear Borders Initiative..."

Basically, President Bush on this occasion found himself victim of writers who would simply never pass muster on either Prison Break or 24. He had to accomplish an impossible rhetorical mission, and - come on - doesn't he realize that Mission: Impossible is sooo last week? Mr. Bush had to pander to his law-and-order, conservative friends who want the border sealed, and also appease his Latino base, which the Republican party will require to win future elections.

Meanwhile, Bush's temporary worker program - if passed - will be the biggest new bureaucracy since the last one he foisted on America (the Homeland Security Department) and Bush (still playing a conservative president for the cameras...) will be the biggest spender in the Oval Office since LBJ. Frankly, that plotline is simply too outrageous for Prison Break or 24, isn't it? Forget liberals hating the guy - they never were going to approve of him, anyway - how can conservatives live with such nonsense from their leader?

And what was Fox TV thinking, slotting Bush as the first of three Presidents on the air last night, when the other two were so desperately and irrevocably shady (yet infinitely more poised, eloquent and Presidential than the Real Thing)? Karl Rove might not realize this (uh, he's got other concerns right now...), but art always reflects life, and if even the right-wing Fox Network TV programs are portraying the President as an out-of-control, craven abuser of power then Bush is really, really in trouble. Because Hollywood is usually about a year or two behind the trend...and that means Americans are mightily pissed at Bush. And have been for some time.

Bush better get his buddies in Big Oil and Big Business to dust off those Diebold machines in a hurry. Or maybe he can send huge numbers of the National Guard to "secure" the polling stations in November.

Oh wait, I forgot, the National Guard isn't here. It's nation-building in Iraq (and wasn't Bush against that too? Could it be another - gasp - flip-flop?). Please - somebody - get Bush some new writers, quick! But you better hurry, because the TV season ends in a few weeks...and if this guy isn't careful, his party's not going to get renewed for next year.

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