Friday, January 20, 2006

Jack Bauer and the Pres: Life Immitates TV

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George W. Bush-POTUS; Gregory Itzen-Actor POTUS

Buzzflash noted the following news story in today’s email:

George W. Bush assured the nation that his wife was not planning to run for the Senate. (Who asked?) "She's not interested in running for office. She's interested in literacy," Bush said during an appearance at JK Moving & Storage. Hey Laura, literacy begins at home.

Does literacy include reading the newspapers? Last week Bush admitted he was not aware that German intel usefully filled in gaps for unmanned target strikes in Iraq shortly after the initial invasion.

Question: “From your knowledge, did the German intelligence help the U.S. before and during the Iraq war in Baghdad?”

President Bush: “I have no idea about the latter. [Laughter.] You did say, secret intelligence, right? [Laughter.] I understand. I really—the truth of the matter is, the chancellor brought this up this morning. I had no idea what she was talking about. The first I heard of it was this morning, truthfully.” –MSNBC Shadowland, Target Practice, Christopher Dickey, 1/19/06

Newsweek reporter and terrorism expert Chris Dickey’s reaction in his latest Shadowland column:

Apparently the president’s public position on such sensitive matters is don’t ask, don’t tell. But given the American track record, maybe it’s time the rest of us took a closer look.

I watched Bush, live, make his remarks at the podium with the German Chancellor. I thought I was watching one of those made for TV movies where the president drank some bad stuff planted by terrorists and he lost his mind. This is because of the huge amount of media coverage one day prior, devoted to the German intel Bush now claimed he never heard of.

The image immediately came to mind of the actor, Gregory Itzin, who plays the character of President Charles Logan on the Fox TV series, “24.” While the “24” show episodes center around good guys--Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) and main man Jack Bauer--fighting the bad guys—sub-human lethal terrorists—the character of the president, Logan, is key to plot movements based on his temper tantrums and cumbersome inability to take on the leadership role in tight spots. This fictional president’s foibles and failings keep the fictional story more interesting and suspenseful.

Itzin’s character Logan is so inept, so scattered and erratic, that occasionally my wife complains about Itzin’s acting. I have reassured her that the acting is right on the money. Itzen is depicting a person who has no spine, who is totally self-centered and opportunistic, and who would have outlasted Hamlet in a contest for “person least likely to make a decision.”

When we, the audience, are treated to an insider viewpoint of President Logan and his cronies on “24,” as they discuss events behind closed doors, one can imagine how that same activity plays out with Bush and his crew in the real world.

After Bush admitted he hadn’t heard about the German intel in Iraq until the morning of last week’s press conference, even though the media were splattered with references the day before, what might have happened back in chambers? What did Bush and his aides discuss? Did it go like this, as if from an episode of “24?”

Bush [to Andrew Card, Chief of Staff]:

Do you think they bought that about me not knowing about the German intel? I looked like a jerk out there.

Card [nodding the knowing look while reaching out to

It was in your briefing papers yesterday that the press got hold of it. Only yesterday, so you could conceivably not have known about it until today. I don’t think you looked that jerky.


Hell I can’t get through the briefing papers anyway—I’m the President of the Free World! Do you people think I have time to read, get dressed, do my exercise routine, listen to Laura’s lectures, AND run the country in one day? Plus dad’s on my ass about the polls. Half the time I can’t even remember what I said to who…


…”Whom” sir…


..”whom” what?


You said “what I said to who,”—it’s “whom.”


What you said to what? Andy, what are you talking about? You
are really confused. Never mind anyway--Someone’s gotta brief me on the briefing papers, ‘cuz I don’t have time to read both pages. And don’t leave out stuff like this German intel shit again or we’re all gonna start looking stupid!


Yes sir Mr. President. I’ll let the Vice president know you want him to
read to you some more.

The producers and writers of “24” are well aware of politics and current events in order to keep their plot lines a step ahead, or at least in tune with, the times. That’s why the President Logan character is coming off so much like a mockery of Bush, who plays the US President in real life. Even in the background profile on the “24” web site, Logan’s resume is short on political experience, and long on executive level activity in the energy field--too similar to the real guy to be a coincidence.

I usually attribute the nervous feeling I get watching “24” episodes from the suspense created by true TV professionals. The added reason for the queasy upsetting sensation I get lately, comes from the idea that what’s happening for entertainment in my living room, could be a horrible foreshadowing of reality to come—especially when Itzen’s President Logan character screws up big-time, which he does all the time. It’s too real.

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