Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Bill and Bernie Reruns

Americans' remote controls morph into time machines as they change channels to find Bill Clinton at the White House podium holding forth on Bush tax cuts (among other topics) and Bernie Sanders on C-Span filibustering against them like Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" on TCM.

Washington is a farce like "The Office" these days or a giant reality show with participants contorting themselves every which way to stay on camera.

Whatever is going on is show business, not government. In the season finale of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," the corrupt political boss muses about "how much sin you can live with." Click, and here is Harry Reid, just after the Senate votes down health aid for 9/11 workers, pushing to allow his Nevada constituents to bilk computer users with legalized online poker.

Meanwhile, the President is retreating into holiday cheer after doing his Lewis Black rant on politicians Left and Right. The reviews were not scintillating.

House Democrats are reduced to profanity, while Peggy Noonan observes, "We have not in our lifetimes seen a president in this position. He spent his first year losing the center, which elected him, and his second losing his base, which is supposed to provide his troops. There isn't much left to lose! Which may explain Tuesday's press conference."

But, as with all TV shows, it's best not to underestimate the ingenuity of script writers. On the season ender of another HBO original, "In Treatment," the protagonist who has been struggling with psychiatric problems of his patients for three seasons, walks away, totally disillusioned with what we have been watching him do all that time.

No matter, the odds are that he will be back to wrestle with futility again, as will the stars of the biggest TV show of them all in Washington.

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