Politics is downstream of culture. -Andrew Breitbart
Between network television and Netflix, I have been watching three separate series that all take place in and around the White House: “Designated Survivor,” “Madame Secretary,” and “House of Cards.” House of Cards is fun (although there are plenty of disturbing scenes made for fast-forward) because it makes no pretense that anyone in politics is motivated by anything other than naked self-interest and the pursuit of power. To be honest, I’m a bit surprised that it aired during the Obama administration, and with the Underwoods being democrats, too.
Madame Secretary was clearly developed to promote Hillary for president. If you realize that going in, you can laugh at the typical tropes like “Global Climate Change is the single biggest threat to our national security,” the non-gender-conforming policy advisor, and even the fantastical “Iran Deal” that could only be negotiated in a television show. Given the failure of this show to drag Clinton over the finish line resulting in (I love saying this) President Trump, the next goal of the show will be to show everyone how awesome it will be when we have a woman president.
Designated Survivor is perhaps the most subtle of the three. It stars Kiefer Sutherland (formerly Jack Bauer in “24”) as Tom Kirkman, the former HUD Secretary who gets thrust into the presidency after a terrorist attack during the State of the Union. Of course, the original Muslim suspect turned out to be a decoy and the real mastermind was actually an evil capitalist. Sutherland portrays the president as a non-partisan straight shooter, but it’s clear that he and his staff are anything but. In a recent episode, they were trying to nominate a “progressive icon” to the Supreme Court. Everyone was excited about how much “good” he could do on the Court which, of course, is not the job of a Supreme Court Justice. Interestingly, in a nod to the #metoo movement, the nomination was derailed due to a past sexual harassment claim that was initially only deemed a problem because “the Republicans control the Judiciary Committee.” I guess they were admitting that Democrats would have overlooked such things just to get a progressive on the court.
All three are entertaining, but keep your antennae up and be on the lookout for propaganda. And try not to get confused by the different Oval Office decorations.
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