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ABC Pulls the Plug on Hillary's Prez Plans
May 10, 2006
by Carey Roberts

Last week ABC announced it was yanking Commander in Chief, the highly-touted series about the first American female president. It had fallen to No. 64 in the Nielsen ratings, so taking the show off life-support was only a matter of time.

Commander in Chief was not a TV series in the usual sense. Rather it was a nationally-televised focus group, designed to test out issues, talking points, and applause lines for Hillary Clinton's stealth presidential campaign.

The lead script writer was Steve Cohen, whose ties to the Clinton family go back to 1991. After a stint in president Bill Clinton's press office, Mr. Cohen was named Hillary's deputy communications director, a position he held for over three years.

Cohen is an unabashed booster of Mrs. Clinton's presidential hopes. "I have no doubt she is capable, qualified, and ready to be the president of the United States should she choose to run," Cohen once said. Just in case anyone missed the point, Cohen brazenly referenced HRC numerous times on the program.

Last October Cohen was joined by Capricia Marshall, who had worked as Mrs. Clinton's White House social secretary. Throughout the period that Commander in Chief was being aired, Marshall lunched with Hillary on a regular basis.

So what campaign themes did Commander in Chief test out?

First, Mr. Cohen cast president Mackenzie Allen as a political independent, a clear signal that Hillary will package herself as not beholden to "politics-as-usual." Smart move.

Next, Cohen tried out lines calculated to energize the female electorate. In one episode, the vice president refers to a Nigerian woman sentenced to death for adultery because she was "a woman who couldn't keep her legs together."

That lesson comes straight from the Democratic playbook: No problem if you demean and insult your constituency, just so long as you succeed in turning out the vote on Election Day.

Third, Cohen portrayed Mackenzie Allen as a statesman motivated by principle, not political expediency. Another good move, since everyone knows male politicos will say anything to get elected, and even write books designed to whitewash their political past.

Above all, Allen was depicted as under constant siege from the vast right-wing conspiracy. When her teleprompter goes on the fritz, we all suspect the conservative Speaker of the House is the culprit. In another episode, Allen's husband is accused of groping an intern. Wonder where Cohen got that crazy idea?

There was really no need for Cohen to try out the woman-as-perpetual-victim storyline. Every Democratic hack knows that catering to chivalrous men and angry women is a slam-dunk political strategy.

Here's vintage Hillary at a March 6 fund-raiser: "When you run as a Democrat, and in particular when you run as a Democratic woman, whether you're running at the local, state, or national level, it's likely you're going to draw some unfriendly fire," Hillary explained. "If they do that, wear it as a badge of honor, because you know what? There are lots of things that we should be angry and outraged about these days."

That line comes straight out of Feminist Agitprop 101:

  1. Female (but never male) politicians will be unfairly attacked.
  2. The patriarchal threat lurks everywhere ("at the local, state, or national level")
  3. Consider the attack as an affirmation of your radical social agenda ("wear it as a badge of honor")
  4. Channel your outrage into ever-greater political activism.

In the end, what doomed Commander in Chief was the producers' inability to reconcile Mackenzie Allen's multiple roles. In one scene, she was pondering the fate of the Free World. A minute later, Allen was the beleaguered victim of men's chauvinistic designs. In the third scene, she was Mommy's little girl.

Hillary Clinton has assembled an impressive coterie of hand-holders and ring-kissers in the mass media: Katie Couric at CBS News, the editors at the New York Times, the Spin Sisters who run the women's magazines, and the feminist reporters who populate the old media.

Even Geena Davis, the actress who portrayed Mackenzie Allen, has been willing to step out of her thespian role to push for the HRC presidency. "So many countries have had a female head of state before us, so it is certainly time," she hectored a crowd at the United Nations Delegates Dining Room last week.

No doubt Steve Cohen had noble intentions when he sat down to write the scripts for CIC. But in the end, Commander in Chief came across as a stinging parody of a politician who is willing to co-opt even a TV entertainment program in her quest for ultimate political power.

Carey Roberts has been published frequently in the Washington Times, Townhall.com, LewRockwell.com, ifeminists.net, Intellectual Conservative, and elsewhere. He is a staff reporter for the New Media Alliance.

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