The Self Made Pundit
Friday, August 01, 2003
THE BUSH SHOW DROPS UNCLE POINDEXTER: A few days ago, in my post “Bush Jumps the Shark,” I took a break from opining on political matters to review the third season of that increasingly inane sitcom “The Bush Administration.” I think another look at the series is warranted with the news that The Bush Administration is dropping one of its minor characters, wacky Uncle Poindexter.
The entertainment media are reporting that the Bush writers are writing Uncle Poindexter out of the show in response to the disastrous reception viewers gave this week’s macabre episode, which had wacky Uncle Poindexter outraging his Democratic coworkers by starting a Dead Pool at the office in which he took bets on the company’s competitors murdering each other. As today’s New York Times reports:
The official who oversaw a plan for the Pentagon to run a terrorist futures-trading market is resigning under pressure, a senior Defense Department official said today.
John M. Poindexter, a retired rear admiral who was President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser, is stepping down “within a few weeks,” the defense official said, after the disclosure of a proposal that outraged lawmakers and embarrassed senior Pentagon officials. The plan was to create an online trading parlor that would have rewarded investors who forecast terrorist attacks, assassinations and coups.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld did not personally fire Admiral Poindexter, but the defense official said that Mr. Rumsfeld agreed that the admiral had become too much of a political lightning rod and that it was time for him to go.
The decision to drop Uncle Poindexter from the series is hardly surprising. Many television critics wondered why the show’s creators were resurrecting an annoying character dropped nearly two decades ago from “The Reagan Administration.” Viewers of the once popular Reagan show will recall that Uncle Poindexter was axed after his bizarre antics in the Iran-Contra scandal storyline so alienated viewers they nearly led to the mid-season cancellation of that show.
The Bush writers displayed extremely poor judgment in thinking that the tastes of the prime time audience had so changed in recent years that viewers would now enjoy the outlandish escapades of zany Uncle Poindexter. The show’s writers proved from the start that they wanted the eccentric uncle to engage in the same bizarre adventures that alienated Reagan audiences.
Viewers will recall that in the Bush show’s first subplot involving Uncle Poindexter, he was caught lurking in the neighbor’s bushes and then launched into a fantastic explanation about how he was spying on all of the neighbors to protect them from terrorists. Viewers found this subplot so creepy it was quickly dropped and Uncle Poindexter was given other “hobbies”:
Admiral Poindexter was engulfed in troubles nearly two decades ago in the Iran-contra scandal during the Reagan administration. More recently he oversaw development of a program at Darpa that proposed spying electronically on Americans to monitor potential terrorists.
That program, originally called Total Information Awareness, was envisioned by Admiral Poindexter as a sweeping electronic surveillance plan that would forestall terrorism by tapping into computer databases to collect credit, financial, medical and travel records.
But this year Congress barred the program from spying on Americans, and the Pentagon changed its name to Terrorism Information Awareness.
I doubt The Bush Administration’s woes will end as abruptly as the Uncle Poindexter subplots did. It has long been obvious that the show’s writers not only lack respect for their audience, they are also incompetent. That is a deadly combination. As the Times reports, critics of the show fear there will be more “Uncle Poindexters” in future episodes:
But Democrats suggested more shenanigans were afoot in the Pentagon that had not been uncovered.
“The problem is more than the fact that Admiral Poindexter was put in charge of these projects,” Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, said in a statement. “The problem is that these projects were just fine with the administration until the public found out about them.”
As I discussed in “Bush Jumps the Shark,” the show’s writers seem to have lost their touch. Dropping one minor oddball character does nothing to fix the main problems of a show that cares more about its corporate sponsors than its viewers.