I’m addicted to watching shows like “House of Cards,” “Veep,” ”Homeland” and “Madame Secretary.” In some way, each episode depicts the real life that we political junkies are living. However, the Washington, D.C., of today has become a more riveting experience because you never know what will happen next in the real world, and I am close to jumping ship and abandoning fiction for fact.
Kevin Spacey is a great president on “House of Cards.” His periodic asides, giving you the unvarnished truth, are often on the mark. At times when Spacey speaks, I imagine him as President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was cunning and knew exactly how to manipulate the politicos around him. Spacey’s wife, played by Robin Penn, in some ways emulates a real presidential spouse who would rather do something meaningful with her life than be a dutiful presidential wife.
The show “Madame Secretary” appears to be an honest portrayal of what it is like to be a secretary of state and often comes up with plots that weeks later occur in real life. The show “Veep” gives a tongue-in-cheek vision of the challenges of being a vice president. Even though the late Vice President James Garner, who served under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, said his job “isn’t worth a bucket of spit,” television brings the role alive and shows that vice presidents really do matter.
In its early years, the show “Homeland” had many scenes that kept you on the edge of your seat because they were so scary. From time to time, a scene from “Homeland” would almost predict what our next foreign-policy crisis would be. But all of these shows pale by comparison to the drama that we are experiencing in the world of Donald Trump.
The president was sworn in on Jan. 20, and hardly a day has gone by since then without a news story about him or members of his team. At times, the daily Trump happenings are so distracting that your first impulse is to turn off the TV. How many tweets does it take before the average citizen concludes that Washington is not only dysfunctional but also is run by a bunch of dummies? We all have important things to do. Who needs immature rants from anyone who has power over our lives?
There isn’t one president in the past 50 years who was wrapped up in so many investigative headaches so early in his tenure. Sooner or later, every president experiences his share of grief, but nothing like the amount of intrigue that we have experienced under Trump so far. Between the president’s childish comments and the backroom antics of his inner circle, a number of voters must be thinking that we should redo the November election, but we might very well get the same result.
Any imaginary president can create accidental crises that hurt our relationships with our overseas allies, but nothing can top Trump’s meddling in foreign affairs so poorly that it creates a crisis in the Arab world and a feud with Qatar, where we have a key military base.
Almost every president brings along family members to the White House, and they make a conscious effort to shield them from press scrutiny. This president assigns his adult children offices in the White House and denigrates them by ignoring many of their suggestions.
Historical shows like “The Borgias” keep you riveted to the TV, but they usually end up with a family member being poisoned, which only happens in North Korea these days. Trump’s adult children have become an annoying distraction, and in the case of son-in-law Jared Kushner, he could be the target of a serious investigation if the allegations about his meddling turn out to be true.
So, for now, I’m abandoning Netflix and my favorite political shows. The drama in Washington is much more interesting than my regular television watching. I hope that one day things settle down, and with or without Trump, the country returns to normal.
Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.