From ‘Madam Secretary’ to 'Madam President’?

Like the unjust steward in the Bible, Morgan Freeman and his colleagues are to be commended for their audacity. Their production of "Madam Secretary", the current TV series starring Téa Leoni as a feminine Secretary of State, appears to be a shameless but possibly effective strategy for marketing Hillary Clinton to the 2016 voting public.

Throughout the forty-odd episodes to date, the heroine of the series, Elizabeth McCord, makes Wonder Woman look like a bumbling frump. Although never deviating from her sweetly feminine demeanor, she almost effortlessly brokers pacts between warring nations, neutralizes terrorists, recovers stray nuclear weapons, and disarms global crises while adroitly solving family problems such as an errant teen-age daughter. She is so utterly trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent that you can’t help thinking what a great president she’d make, instead of that selfish old clod of a President that she has to report to.  And that, some claim, is just what you’re supposed to think.

Although one of the producers of the series admits that the show was inspired by Hillary’s Benghazi testimony, its producers and actors insist that it is not intended as pro-Hillary propaganda; the timing was just a coincidence. To prove that Ms. Leoni was not intended to be a Hillary surrogate, they cite the differences between their personas.

However, those differences are exactly what a pro-Hillary propagandist would be trying to sell. By accident or design, a major portion of the “Madam Secretary” scripts seems to be a rewriting of Hillary’s embarrassing secretarial history so as to make it more palatable to voters, i.e. with unfortunate incidents such as “reset” and Benghazi omitted or favorably transformed (as in one of the episodes called "Another Benghazi" ) and imaginary successes inserted.

The theory behind this strategy was described in a recent PBS presentation called "Memory Hackers".

And, most unnerving, is a false memories study in which London South Bank University psychology professor Julia Shaw convinced subjects to remember doing things they hadn’t actually done in incidents that had never occurred.

You can watch the process here but be warned that it is frightening to see how easily Dr. Shaw persuades people to acknowledge crimes they didn’t actually commit.

Now consider voters who have watched numerous episodes of “Madam Secretary” and seen all the marvelous achievements of its blonde female Secretary of State. I propose that, at election time, they will have forgotten about “reset,” Benghazi, and e-mails but will have a fuzzy memory of a wonderfully effective blonde Secretary of State and tend to associate it with Hillary. The show is quite popular -- it averages about 10 million viewers -- so that if the false-memory effect significantly influences even one viewer in ten, that’s a million votes.

That edge could easily decide the election. Hillary already has the liberal, black, Hispanic, and Muslim vote in her handbag. The Republicans are badly divided and may be partly disaffected or even diverted to a third-party candidate. But most important of all, feminism may well be the crucial issue in the election. The prospect of a woman finally becoming president may sway even Republican women. And “Madam Secretary,” with its strongly feminist slant, has helped to pave the way for the feminism card which Hillary has already hinted at and is certain to play heavily this summer. Therefore, unless Bernie Sanders works a miracle, “Madam Secretary” will have played a minor but significant part in Hillary’s likely victory.

I can see only one way out this catastrophic future. I hereby propose Téa Leoni as the Republican candidate for President of the United States.

Because of the unfortunate coincidence of the date of posting of this article, some of you may assume that I’m joking. But I really do think she deserves serious consideration. Admittedly, Ms. Leoni is hardly the ideal conservative candidate (have you seen one lately?) but she is less worse than most of the would-be candidates we have been considering and much more likely to win. Let’s consider some of the relevant factors:

·      Ms. Leoni has a well-known and well-liked face, largely thanks to “Madam Secretary”. This elicits favorable responses from the public because of the so-called mere exposure effect. And unlike Hillary, she doesn’t seem to get caught with ugly or ludicrous facial expressions.

·      Her candidacy would cause the psychological effect of “Madam Secretary” to backfire. Voters would subconsciously remember the contrast between Hillary’s failures and the successes of Leoni’s McCord persona.

·      She seems to be reasonably intelligent, at least at the level of presidentibilli such as Gerald Ford or Joe Biden -- unlike whom, she has not uttered any embarrassing gaffes. In fact, her numerous quotes sound sensible and articulate. 

·      She seems to possess attractive levels of humility and candor, having said, for example, “I'm not a huge fan of my work.”

·      Her private life has been, at least by present norms, reasonably discreet and respectable. She was divorced twice (which does not seem to be a problem for other candidates) but managed to do so without scandal or rancor and even with some polite and ladylike good wishes for her philandering ex-husband. She seems to be a devoted mother to her two children, having quit acting for two years after the birth of her daughter.

·      Being an actress is a strong positive qualification. Regan’s remark about acting being essential for his presidency was sincere and valid. Jack Valenti also noted the similarities between politicians and actors. The POTUS is onstage day and night, needs a superb sense of timing, must never forget his lines and must be able to ad lib without stumbling.

·      Her knowledge of national politics and world affairs, although not on a professional level, has been somewhat sharpened by the numerous detailed political expositions in the “Madam Secretary” scripts.

·      She is a liberal and was even boycotted as such a dozen years ago. However, she was originally a conservative and switched, I suspect, merely because she fell among bad company. I think she can be persuaded to switch again—as Donald Trump has so often done.

·      Above all, she’s a woman, and the women’s vote will probably be the decisive factor in November.

In any case, she’s better than Hillary. As I’ve said before, anyone is better than Hillary.

Like the unjust steward in the Bible, Morgan Freeman and his colleagues are to be commended for their audacity. Their production of "Madam Secretary", the current TV series starring Téa Leoni as a feminine Secretary of State, appears to be a shameless but possibly effective strategy for marketing Hillary Clinton to the 2016 voting public.

Throughout the forty-odd episodes to date, the heroine of the series, Elizabeth McCord, makes Wonder Woman look like a bumbling frump. Although never deviating from her sweetly feminine demeanor, she almost effortlessly brokers pacts between warring nations, neutralizes terrorists, recovers stray nuclear weapons, and disarms global crises while adroitly solving family problems such as an errant teen-age daughter. She is so utterly trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent that you can’t help thinking what a great president she’d make, instead of that selfish old clod of a President that she has to report to.  And that, some claim, is just what you’re supposed to think.

Although one of the producers of the series admits that the show was inspired by Hillary’s Benghazi testimony, its producers and actors insist that it is not intended as pro-Hillary propaganda; the timing was just a coincidence. To prove that Ms. Leoni was not intended to be a Hillary surrogate, they cite the differences between their personas.

However, those differences are exactly what a pro-Hillary propagandist would be trying to sell. By accident or design, a major portion of the “Madam Secretary” scripts seems to be a rewriting of Hillary’s embarrassing secretarial history so as to make it more palatable to voters, i.e. with unfortunate incidents such as “reset” and Benghazi omitted or favorably transformed (as in one of the episodes called "Another Benghazi" ) and imaginary successes inserted.

The theory behind this strategy was described in a recent PBS presentation called "Memory Hackers".

And, most unnerving, is a false memories study in which London South Bank University psychology professor Julia Shaw convinced subjects to remember doing things they hadn’t actually done in incidents that had never occurred.

You can watch the process here but be warned that it is frightening to see how easily Dr. Shaw persuades people to acknowledge crimes they didn’t actually commit.

Now consider voters who have watched numerous episodes of “Madam Secretary” and seen all the marvelous achievements of its blonde female Secretary of State. I propose that, at election time, they will have forgotten about “reset,” Benghazi, and e-mails but will have a fuzzy memory of a wonderfully effective blonde Secretary of State and tend to associate it with Hillary. The show is quite popular -- it averages about 10 million viewers -- so that if the false-memory effect significantly influences even one viewer in ten, that’s a million votes.

That edge could easily decide the election. Hillary already has the liberal, black, Hispanic, and Muslim vote in her handbag. The Republicans are badly divided and may be partly disaffected or even diverted to a third-party candidate. But most important of all, feminism may well be the crucial issue in the election. The prospect of a woman finally becoming president may sway even Republican women. And “Madam Secretary,” with its strongly feminist slant, has helped to pave the way for the feminism card which Hillary has already hinted at and is certain to play heavily this summer. Therefore, unless Bernie Sanders works a miracle, “Madam Secretary” will have played a minor but significant part in Hillary’s likely victory.

I can see only one way out this catastrophic future. I hereby propose Téa Leoni as the Republican candidate for President of the United States.

Because of the unfortunate coincidence of the date of posting of this article, some of you may assume that I’m joking. But I really do think she deserves serious consideration. Admittedly, Ms. Leoni is hardly the ideal conservative candidate (have you seen one lately?) but she is less worse than most of the would-be candidates we have been considering and much more likely to win. Let’s consider some of the relevant factors:

·      Ms. Leoni has a well-known and well-liked face, largely thanks to “Madam Secretary”. This elicits favorable responses from the public because of the so-called mere exposure effect. And unlike Hillary, she doesn’t seem to get caught with ugly or ludicrous facial expressions.

·      Her candidacy would cause the psychological effect of “Madam Secretary” to backfire. Voters would subconsciously remember the contrast between Hillary’s failures and the successes of Leoni’s McCord persona.

·      She seems to be reasonably intelligent, at least at the level of presidentibilli such as Gerald Ford or Joe Biden -- unlike whom, she has not uttered any embarrassing gaffes. In fact, her numerous quotes sound sensible and articulate. 

·      She seems to possess attractive levels of humility and candor, having said, for example, “I'm not a huge fan of my work.”

·      Her private life has been, at least by present norms, reasonably discreet and respectable. She was divorced twice (which does not seem to be a problem for other candidates) but managed to do so without scandal or rancor and even with some polite and ladylike good wishes for her philandering ex-husband. She seems to be a devoted mother to her two children, having quit acting for two years after the birth of her daughter.

·      Being an actress is a strong positive qualification. Regan’s remark about acting being essential for his presidency was sincere and valid. Jack Valenti also noted the similarities between politicians and actors. The POTUS is onstage day and night, needs a superb sense of timing, must never forget his lines and must be able to ad lib without stumbling.

·      Her knowledge of national politics and world affairs, although not on a professional level, has been somewhat sharpened by the numerous detailed political expositions in the “Madam Secretary” scripts.

·      She is a liberal and was even boycotted as such a dozen years ago. However, she was originally a conservative and switched, I suspect, merely because she fell among bad company. I think she can be persuaded to switch again—as Donald Trump has so often done.

·      Above all, she’s a woman, and the women’s vote will probably be the decisive factor in November.

In any case, she’s better than Hillary. As I’ve said before, anyone is better than Hillary.