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"Commander in Chief": Hillary's Infomercial By: Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, September 28, 2005

THE HILLARY CLINTON ’08 CAMPAIGN AIRED ITS FIRST, HOUR-LONG COMMERCIAL last night. Unfortunately, it came masked as a primetime network TV series.

ABC’s “Commander-in-Chief” stars Geena Davis as the first female president. Recognizing obvious parallels with Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions, its creator, stars, and assistants – not a single Republican amongst them – carefully distanced themselves from the notion their new program would promote either Hillary proper or left-wing politics in general. “We're going to deal with East Wing stuff, residential stuff,” series creator Rod Lurie told The Hollywood Reporter. “We don't want to be caught on the Left side of the world at all.” Davis quipped she’s only “involved in the politics of making sure that ABC and Touchstone are very happy with this show.” The program, its promoters reassured, would cover such material as “how to get the First Kids to school, how to take the First Kids trick-or-treating, how state dinners are run from A to Z.”


As usual, the Hollywood Left lied.


The Play is the Thing


Last night, “Commander in Chief” portrayed conservatives as ruthless, power-hungry, militaristic, Bible-thumping, sexist bigots. The New Republic observed, “the show's partisan bias is comically unsubtle.”


As the show begins, Republican Teddy Roosevelt Bridges selects university president and former Congresswoman Mackenzie Allen (Davis) as vice president for the novelty it brings his ticket. Allen is a registered independent who does not share the president’s agenda. Two years after their election, Vice President Allen is in France, listening to a children’s choir sing “America the Beautiful” en francais, when she gets the news President Bridges has suffered a brain aneurysm. She rushes to his deathbed, where he asks her to resign, so conservative Speaker of the House Nathan Templeton (portrayed by Donald Sutherland) can assume the presidency. When Allen asks her speechwriters to draft a resignation speech, the male writer explodes this is the wrong move. Templeton, he shouts, is a militarist who will bring “Creationism into the schools.”


When Allen begins to have second thoughts, Templeton derides her with a crudely sexist rant, in which he notes his antipathy for France. (He mocks her naivete for asking “guys who can't get elected without the Muslim vote to interfere...in the Shari'a court” during an African junket.) In a line apparently culled from Lex Luthor, Templeton tells the prospective president her good intentions are no reason to accede to the Oval Office: “The reason you want to be president is because you want the power, you want the power to control the universe.”


Pressure mounts. Even her teenage daughter, Rebecca – also an evil Republican – wants her to step down. “I have a daughter who'd rather see Pat Buchanan in the Oval Office than her old lady,” Allen sighs. Nonetheless, she is sworn in. When she cannot find a Bible for the inauguration, Speaker Templeton gladly supplies his. (He’s a conservative Christian – get it?)


Upon inauguration, the series’ rehabilitation of Hillary Clinton begins in earnest. The writers make a half-dozen ham-handed references to the former first lady in the pilot episode alone. President Allen, it seems, is one-half of a power team. Her husband, Rod, served as her chief-of-staff in the vice president’s office, but as a magnanimous gesture, Allen keeps President Bridges’ chief-of-staff on during the transition, leaving Rod a lonely First Husband. He complains their partnership had worked in the past, because “we were at each other’s side.”


Now he is confined to the first lady’s quarters – the pinkest room in television history – where he contemplates a painting of Nancy Reagan decked out in one of her trademark red dresses with pearls. He is greeted by the head of White House protocol, a Stepford Wife who speaks to him in endless tones of condescending mock sweetness. She asks where he would like his office. She notes, “Mrs. Clinton had her office in the West Wing. That didn’t go over very well.” How many staffers will he need? 20? Again, “Mrs. Clinton had 20. That didn’t go over well.” When he expresses a desire to see his wife’s first televised speech, the protocol expert demands, “Will you be involving yourself in things like that?” Soon, he bristles at selecting the president’s favorite salad dressing, to which she replies, “There was Mrs. Clinton. She shunned that.”


The message couldn’t be clearer: Hillary didn’t stay home and bake cookies. She was too brilliant to sink into the life of the lobotomized social set (unlike Nancy Reagan). How dare we object to her rightful position at her husband’s side, using her ample talents to guide this nation during his presidency? What were we thinking to chain this political genius to an unfulfilling life of china patterns and interior decorating? The opening salvo of “Commander in Chief” is a guilt trip for all those Americans who thought an unelected (and then-unelectable) feminist extremist should refrain from imposing her will upon the nation.


Although she has doubts (“I was never on the inside. I wasn't Gore. I wasn't Cheney,” she tells Rod), President Clinton – err, Allen – quickly comes into her own. Defying stereotypes of weak female leaders, she orders a military incursion – but a venture of a decidedly Clintonesque kind. She sends an expeditionary force into Kirikiri Prison in Lagos, Nigeria, to save a woman condemned to death for committing adultery (another Clintonesque connection), just as that woman is being led to her execution. (Perhaps a reference to how Hillary bailed out Bill during impeachment?) Again, “humanitarian” campaigns in Third World countries are acceptable; actions to defend the American homeland are for militarists, like Templeton.


Then she steps before Congress to give what is supposed to be her triumphant first national address (in reality, a hackneyed and self-aggrandizing piece of melodrama). When her Teleprompter mysteriously dies, Speaker Templeton nods darkly in knowing satisfaction. President Allen is undeterred. Speaking extemporaneously, she lets George W. Bush – err, Nathan Templeton – have it: “The responsibility of a great state is to serve the world, not to dominate it.” Everyone in the audience – even her staunchest critics – instantly showers her in glowing adoration.


…As the producers hope you will for Hillary. With good reason, Rod Lurie, a Clinton supporter, told an audience of critics, “If Hillary Clinton should get the nomination, we’re all taking credit.” Why shouldn't he? The first episode alone had all the elements of Loony Leftism: Sexist bigots embedded in the highest levels of power, a “vast right-wing conspiracy” against women, the casting of an academic as an enlightened hero, the dehumanization of women who devote themselves to family life, and the belief that French Muslims are our natural allies if only we will stop dominating them.


Luke Montgomery of the website Bill-for-First-Lady.com, agrees the series will be a windfall for Mrs. Clinton. “Tuesday's series premiere is ‘Super Tuesday’ for Hillary supporters,” he said. “Geena Davis has our vote, but there's no doubt the real-life winning ticket is Hillary as president with Bill as ‘First Lady.’” Prominent Democrats Susan Estrich, Morgan Fairchild, and Barbara Lee – a Boston-based fundraiser for Hillary and founder of the White House Project – hosted or attended viewing parties last night.


A History of Hollywood Activism


This is not the first time show creator Rod Lurie has strayed into Clintonite territory. He also wrote The Contender, his 2000 film about the first female vice president, who is a victim of conservative sexual witch-hunters. (Ironically, his first film, 1998’s Deterrence, salutes a president who launches a nuclear strike against Baghdad in the year 2008, after Iraqi President Udei Hussein threatens to launch nuclear weapons he acquired…from France. At the time, attacking Iraq was still the Clinton party line.)


Geena Davis attended the last President Clinton’s inaugurals and would not be reluctant for another invitation.


However, it is Donald Sutherland who has the longest track record of support for radical causes. With then-lover Jane Fonda, Sutherland set up the Winter Soldier Investigations in the winter of 1971. John Kerry also participated in these mock investigations, in which 150 pseudo-soldiers testified to committing war atrocities against Vietnamese civilians.


The following year, Sutherland and Fonda toured military towns of the West Coast, in an apparent attempt to encourage soldiers to desert or commit mutiny. They filmed their anti-American exploits in the movie FTA (which stood for “F-ck The Army”). The film captures Sutherland threatening American politicians and military leaders:


Remember this well, you people who plan for war. Remember this, you patriots, you fierce ones, you spawners of hate, you inventors of slogans...We are men of peace, we are men who work, and we want no quarrel...But if you try to range us one against the other, we will know what to do. If you tell us to make the world safe for democracy, we will take you seriously....


We will use the guns you forced upon us...to defend our very lives, and the menace to our lives does not lie on the other side of a no-man’s land set apart without our consent. It lies within our own boundaries...Put the guns into our hands, and we will use them...Give us the slogans, and we’ll turn them into realities...And we will live.


Yes, even then, the Left supported their troops…when they shot their officers.


The years have not mellowed the septuagenarian leftist. After telling a reporter with the London Sunday Times that Tony Blair is “evil” and the French are a model of “family values” (!), Sutherland dubbed Iraq “way worse” than Vietnam:


Vietnam was a lie but at least there was a political agenda. It was the Domino Theory. Iraq is about nothing but George Bush’s ego laced with imperialist ambitions.


Now he will take his animus for “imperialist” conservatives into his TV work.


Same Partisan Time, Same Partisan Channel….


Although the writers have promised this “independent” president will swerve right-ward on occasion, all the program’s antagonists – from the sexist President Bridges to the evil Nathan Templeton – have been cast as conservative Republicans. In a characteristic Hollywood move, a Left-leaning president is portrayed as an “independent” – an attempt by Hollywood to position its far-Left agenda as “centrist,” assaulted by “extremists” on the Right. There seems to be little reason for optimism, judging from forthcoming plots.


Next Episode: Madame president taps for Vice President Sixties radical Peter Coyote (a Mumia Abu-Jamal fan who questioned whether we should retaliate for 9/11 and supported the presidential campaign of Dennis Kucinich) – but evil Republicans spike the choice.


Coming Soon: Her daughter – the conservative one – is involved in a videotaped sex scandal. Explains actress Caitlin Wachs, “It’s like Paris Hilton, but maybe not as staged.” No doubt the message will be: This woman shouldn’t be held accountable for the sexual foibles of her family members. She’s a victim, too.


Or rather, you are, if you watch.

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving (2004).

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