Presidents, television and real life

So, I finally got the chance to watch the premiere of Commander in Chief that I recorded last week.  (And yes, I am inordinately proud of having finally figured out how to program a recording using the tv-input card in my computer, since it was scheduled against the new Amazing Race.)  Not planning on watching it again.

Overall the show mostly served as an excellent illustration of Anna Fels’ point about how societally unacceptable it is for women to admit to ambition.  The scenario they spin is that Allen was invited to be VP out of pure tokenism, and everyone knows this, and expects her to step down when the President is incapacitated because her politics and the President’s don’t match.  Well, Kennedy and Johnson didn’t exactly see eye to eye on many issues, but no one ever suggested to LBJ that he not take up the post.  But Allen isn’t even offended that everyone sees her as a token, because she knows she is one.  Not exactly the role model I’m looking for.

Back in the real world, I wish I could summon up more enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate.  I do think she’s running, even though she’s not saying so yet.  After eight years of Bill’s triangulation strategy, and her (appropriate) focus on NY-specific concerns as a Senator, I don’t know what she stands for anymore.  And I’ve never heard her take any ownership of the fiasco that was her health care reform plan, or to discuss what lessons she learned from that experience.

I read last month that Gov. Mark Warner has officially said that he’s not going to run against George Allen for Senate, which leads some people to conclude that he’s running for President.  I think that’s a mistake.  I think he’s been a decent Governor, but he doesn’t have any signature accomplishments to point to, and no one outside of Virginia has ever heard of him.  And Allen is an awful Senator, but the Democratic party doesn’t seem to have anyone else to run against him.  (Yes, it’s an election year in Viriginia this year.  I haven’t been writing much about the race because it doesn’t really excite me that much.  I wish I could summon the enthusiasm about any of the Virginia candidates that my friend Kevin has for Mfume and O’Malley in Maryland.)

John Edwards is clearly running, and he’s saying a lot of things that I agree with.  But the potential candidate who makes my heart beat faster is Barack Obama.  But is he running?   He was just elected to the Senate last year, and after the election, seemed to close that door pretty strongly, saying:

"So look, I can unequivocally say I will not be running for national office in four years, and my entire focus is making sure that I’m the best possible senator on behalf of the people of Illinois."

But, as Eric Zorn argued back in January, political windows like Obama’s don’t stay open forever, and he might want to move while everyone still remembers his convention speech.  And getting down and dirty on Daily Kos strikes me as the actions of someone who is thinking larger than re-election.  (He has podcasts on his website too.)

I know, the election is still over 3 years away.  But it’s fun to speculate.

10 Responses to “Presidents, television and real life”

  1. landismom Says:

    I confess, I skipped this show purely because of the advertising. I mean, would they put up a billboard that said, “This Fall, a Black Guy Will Be President!” Clearly not, so why is it okay when it’s a woman?
    I’m with you, too, about not being that excited about Hillary’s candidacy. I’ve always thought, though, that the first woman president will be a Republican. I think that’s largely due to my having lived through the Mondale-Ferraro candidacy (although I wasn’t old enough to vote in that election).

  2. Mieke Says:

    Did you read Nora Ephron’s editorial about Clinton in the NYTimes this week? It was pretty brutal. I thought Gina Davis did a pretty good job, but I thought (keep in mind this is my “industry”) the direction sucked including the work of the D.P. It will be interesting to see how it does. Have you been watching West Wing this season? It’s SO MUCH better than it has been in recent years. It’s really fun.
    I am still an Edwards woman. Obama in a few years.
    M

  3. Jody Says:

    I think Obama is probably thinking 2012 or 2016, and counting on his moment lasting.
    I can’t stand the idea of a Hilary Clinton candidacy, because (a) I don’t think you can win a national election with the negatives she carries, the hardened opinions she’s already established among the electorate; and (b) even if she weren’t a losing candidate, I don’t like her. I don’t like her political opportunism, I don’t like her public persona, I don’t like the presumption that she’s among the top politicians (let alone women politicians) in the party. She wouldn’t be where she were without her husband, and that just irritates me. Plus, I don’t think she’d be a good president.
    Now, I would have signed on for a Feinstein campaign three elections ago, no matter how hopeless, but I guess she’s never going to run.
    Arguably, we haven’t had a nationally-known non-VP candidate win a presidency since Nixon. Everyone since then had won in part because they had the chance to shape their national image through the campaign process. (Arguably that wasn’t true for Reagan. But I don’t know, I think it’s debatable….) It’s CERTAINLY true that Carter and Clinton and BushII won because they were public unknowns at the start of the process.
    I don’t see a single electoral calculus where ClintonII can win.
    (As a side note, I’ve met the Clintons briefly and relatively informally and in that setting, I liked Hilary a TON MORE than Bill. But when it comes to seeing them on TV, my opinions switch — mostly –right around. Truth be told, Bill probably lost me forever with the Lewinsky scandal, and his handling of terrorism during his administrations didn’t help, either. So maybe I’m biased, because my feeling is: enough of the Clintons already. If I’d been a New Yorker in 2000, I would have voted third-party.)

  4. merseydotes Says:

    As a lobbyist, I can attest that Hillary’s staff are a bunch of arrogant a-holes. Maybe they would be that way even if they weren’t working for her, but I think the personality of the Member often influences the personality of the staff…at least professionally.

  5. dave s Says:

    Well, if Hillary is the Dem nominee, the Reeps can run Jeb, because the ‘dynasty’ issue goes away. Jeb looks to me like walking-away the strongest candidate the Reeps can nominate – Condi doesn’t want it, McCain has most of the same problems Kerry had, Frist can’t energize their base.
    And, folks are talking about what swell progress it is that 85% of voters say a woman can be President. Okay, why do you nominate someone who starts out with a 15% disadvantage?

  6. CGG Says:

    Geena Davis as the president just sounds awful to me. I can’t imagine even watching it.
    Hillary is to much of a moderate for me, but I’d vote for her in a general election. I have to admit that when she ran for Senate in NY I was happy to vote for her, but since 2001 my own views have shifted much farther to the left than her own.
    I like Obama, but it’s to soon for him I think.

  7. Jheka Says:

    As someone who voted for Gore in 2000 (no, really!), Bush in 2004 and will more than likely vote for a Republican in 2008 (though it’s not a lock), I find it fascinating that Hillary catches at least as much, if not more, heat and vitriol from the hard left as from the hard right. As I have argued on Little green Footballs, she is hardly the devil incarnate (though some people refuse to acknowledge that) and, from my point of view, may even be better than some potential Republican nominees. I’d hate to be in a postion where I’m inclined to vote for her, since I REALLY do not care for the cynical carpetbagger, but it could happen. On another note, I completely agree that the first woman President will almost certainly be a Republican. This is simply a political reality. The explanation is a tad involved but here is the short version: A Republican woman will be painted as Maggie Thatcher, Golda Meir, etc. A Democratic woman will be painted as Geraldine Ferraro, Barbara Boxer or worse. Throw in the fact that many Democrats will consider voting for a female Republican because of gender while relatively few Republicans will cross party lines to vote for a woman and you have a scenarion that makes a win by Hillary or any other Democratic woman a longshot (that said, Hillary has the name and the political savvy to win if the Republicans put up someone who is very weak, as they have done in the past). Personally, I can see Liddy Dole come out as a dark horse candidate between now and 2008 and I think that, with Bush’s backing, Condi could get the nomination (and would be a VERY strong GE candidate) if she changes her mind on running. At this very early stage, I think I’d support either one of them.
    BTW, Liz … I’ve moved (back) to DC. Drop me an e-mail so that we can get together.

  8. paull Says:

    You say: “Well, Kennedy and Johnson didn’t exactly see eye to eye on many issues, but no one ever suggested to LBJ that he not take up the post.”
    You’re probably right about after the assassination, but after LBJ unexpectedly accepted JFK’s offer to run as VP on the Democratic ticket in 1960, Jack had to send Bobby to LBJ to tell him “Just kidding,” but LBJ wouldn’t withdraw and JFK didn’t have the nerve to drop him. The point is, the offer was made as a political courtesy, and Johnson screwed things up by accepting!

  9. paull Says:

    You say: “Well, Kennedy and Johnson didn’t exactly see eye to eye on many issues, but no one ever suggested to LBJ that he not take up the post.”
    You’re probably right about after the assassination, but after LBJ unexpectedly accepted JFK’s offer to run as VP on the Democratic ticket in 1960, Jack had to send Bobby to LBJ to tell him “Just kidding,” but LBJ wouldn’t withdraw and JFK didn’t have the nerve to drop him. The point is, the offer was made as a political courtesy, and Johnson screwed things up by accepting!

  10. dave s Says:

    You talk about being unhappy with the Virginia races – I think Kaine is a LOT more attractive than Kilgore, and just might win. And we have given to Poisson and Roemmelt, who also are within striking distance of their, in my view, Neanderthal opponents. Just because Englin is in your district doesn’t mean you should go to sleep about the rest of the legislature.

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