Hollywood does Hillary, and other items

     Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses the 51st Delta Sigma Theta National Convention in Washington, Tuesday, July 16, 2013.  (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses the 51st Delta Sigma Theta National Convention in Washington, Tuesday, July 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

    Hither and yon on a summer day:

    Hillary-haters are furious that the NBC entertainment division is mapping a dramatic miniseries about Hillary, to be titled “Hillary.” The glamorous Diane Lane will star as Hillary, and the episodes will air presumably around the time that the real Hillary is gearing up for 2016. NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said the network is interested in making money, not playing politics. In his words, ratings-starved NBC needs “to create ‘event’ programming that will draw viewers to the shrinking world of broadcast network TV.”

    That rings true. NBC is jonesing to air a dramatic series about Hillary for the same reason it gives air time to a clown like Donald Trump. It’s all about the buzz, and buzz generates bucks. At the networks, profit is the operative ideology.

    Nevertheless, Hillary’s critics divine evil conspiratorial intent. The Fox Nation website frets that “the media are now in full court press to get Hillary Clinton elected president in 2016.” The conservative Newsbusters site envisions a “four-hour puff piece specifically designed to present the former first lady in as favorable a light imaginable in order to assist her coronation.”

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    First of all, Hillary haters are guaranteed to attack the miniseries as a “puff piece” unless Hillary is shown personally plotting the murder of Clinton White House aide Vince Foster—better yet, pulling the trigger—and unless she’s shown personally conspiring with Libyan terrorists to murder Americans in Benghazi. Huckster-pollster Dick Morris will probably call it a “puff piece” unless the scriptwriters endorse his lesbian theory and show her consorting with females.

    But the haters need not worry that the miniseries will boost Hillary’s presidential prospects. It’s far more likely to complicate her quest—at least for a few weeks, before voters forget that the show ever aired. (“Event television” is notoriously ephemeral.)

    A ’16 Hillary candidacy would be pitched as a forward-looking historic opportunity to elect the first woman president. The last thing she wants is to remind people about her colorfully disputatious past—yet, by all accounts, the miniseries will dwell heavily on the late ’90s, when she had to play the Good Wife to misbehaving Bill, and on the debacle of campaign ’08, when she was trumped by an upstart. Greenblatt, the NBC entertainment chairman, is surely correct when he says of the miniseries, “I don’t think she will endorse it.”

    And I well remember the buzz back in 1983, when Hollywood released “The Right Stuff,” a movie about the original astronauts. One of the characters was John Glenn, who, in 1983, just so happened to be a U.S senator campaigning for the ’84 Democratic nomination. Ed Harris played Glenn in the movie, depicting him as a gung-ho hero, and everybody assumed that the real Glenn would get a major political boost. As a New York Times article excitedly declared in November ’83, “the newly released film … has given his campaign a publicity send-off unlike any in the annals of Presidential politics.”

    How’d that work out for Glenn, anyway?


    Occasionally, Washington generates good news. Case in point: Sane Republican senators say that it’s nuts to go after Obamacare by threatening to shut down the government.

    As I wrote here last week, the Senate GOP’s tea-partying extremists want to crash the system on Oct. 1 unless President Obama agrees to defund the health reform law. Fortunately, the party’s sane wing is now asserting itself. For instance, Richard Burr, of North Carolina, says that holding the government hostage is “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. Defunding the Affordable Care Act is not achievable by shutting down the federal government. At some point, you’re going to open (it) back up, and Barack Obama is still going to be president.”

    But first prize for sanity goes to a senior conservative senator, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. On Friday, he called the shutdown tactic “a denial of reality mixed with a whole bunch of hype. … The worst thing is being dishonest with your base about what you can accomplish, ginning everybody up and then creating disappointment.”

    Reality, he said, is that “we lost” the 2012 election. He warned that the shutdown strategy risks “destroying the Republican party. … My feeling is, if you want to make sure the Democrats take control of the House [in 2014], run that strategy.”

    Translation: In addition to their contempt for governance, tea-partying extremists exude contempt for sane politicking.


    Rand Paul is still ticked off that Chris Christie attacked him last week. So Paul attacked Christie yesterday—but, in doing so, he egregiously screwed up.

    As I mentioned here yesterday, Christie rebuked the libertarian senator for opposing domestic surveillance and suggested that Paul should come to New Jersey and talk to the 9/11 widows. Paul retaliated yesterday on the friendly confines of Sean Hannity’s Fox News show:

    “It’s really, I think, kind of sad and cheap that [Christie] would use the cloak of 9/11 victims and say, ‘I’m the only one who cares about these victims.’ Hogwash. If he cared about protecting this country, maybe he wouldn’t be in this ‘give me, give me, give me all of the money that you have in Washington,’ or don’t have, and he would be more fiscally responsive and know the way we defend our country.”

    Paul apparently thinks that Jersey’s governor is just a taker who wants to vacuum up all of the money in Washington. But the actual facts show something quite different. According to Census and IRS figures, posted by the Economist magazine (and flagged today by ex-Bush speechwriter David Frum), New Jersey is the nation’s third biggest contributor of federal money to Washington, getting far less back than it pays in. By contrast, Rand Paul’s Kentucky is the 12th biggest net moocher of federal money, getting far more than it pays in.

    But, hey, the guy is just a career ophthalmologist. He can’t be expected to know such things.


    Wouldn’t you have wanted to be a fly on the wall in Rick Santorum’s house, when the devoutly Catholic anti-gay zealot heard Pope Francis say, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”


    Lastly, we have this exchange today in a New York Daily News interview with the benighted Anthony Weiner.

    Q: Is there yet another woman’s shoe about to drop in this campaign?

    Weiner: I have no idea.

    Uh oh.

    And who’d play Weiner in a TV “event” miniseries? I nominate Aaron Paul, who knows how to break bad.


    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1



    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal