A few weeks ago, I offered my thoughts
on the new season of 24
, aiming to quell concerns that the show had 'gone soft' in the age of Obama. The piece highlighted the contemptible pansiness of a Lefty senator (Kurtwood Smith) who was on the war path against Jack Bauer, seeking to hold him "accountable" for his countless life-saving acts of patrioterrorism:
One of the very first scenes of the season took place on Capitol Hill, with Bauer being raked over the coals for his extreme tactics. Consider the portrayal of the senator who’s grilling Bauer just before he’s whisked away to serve an FBI subpoena. The lawmaker comes off as a sniveling know-it-all, eager to score political points by humiliating and demoralizing a man who’s repeatedly risked his life for his country. Bauer’s disdain for his inquisitor is palpable, and the audience isn’t far behind. Incidentally, inquiring minds must know: Was this character an homage to an actual sitting Senator? There are many who’d fit the bill, so let’s just call it a composite.
I argued that the holier-than-thou tone adopted by this fictional senator would turn viewers off, and that 24
's producers were subtly turning public opinion against the weak-kneed bureaucratic class in Washington.
I believe that “24’s” increased attention to interrogation regulations and suspects’ rights does not translate into a newfound enthusiasm for counterproductive caution. If anything, it’s led to the emergence of an entire class of quasi-antagonists on the show: Grandstanding senators and process-obsessed bureaucrats. While this crowd’s motives aren’t nearly as malicious as the terrorists acting in conjunction with the genocidal Senegalese regime in Africa, their actions are still seen as self-serving and risky to the well being of Americans. They’re not viewed as evil, just annoying.
Lo and behold, on this week's two-hour extravaganza, the very same liberal senator's chief of staff was revealed to be a top enabler of a terrorist plot against the United States. Ironically, this is the same man charged with developing the federal case against Bauer on behalf of his boss. After discovering his treachery, Bauer kidnaps and tortures him (inside the White House
, no less), seeking information that could disrupt the plot. Just before Bauer breaks him, the president and the senator intervene, halting the violation of a traitor's human rights and--as it turns out--clearing the way for a hostile takeover of the White House. The cessation of Bauer's dirty business costs more innocent lives and delivers the President of the United States into enemy hands.
Meanwhile the carping lawmaker, even after the revelation that his top advisor is a terrorist, continues to blame Bauer for almost everything. In one scene, he hisses his disapproval of Bauer's actions through gritted teeth while being held hostage by terrorists. Terrorists, mind you, who would never have breached White House security if not for his own preachy grandstanding.
24? Going soft? Um, no.