By Kevin Wilson: CNJ columnist
Nine years of my life gone, but no regrets.
Last week I watched the finale of Fox’s serial drama “24” about agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland). I loved all eight seasons and the made-for-TV movie that bridged the gap created by a writer’s strike. I’m sure I will enjoy the “24” movie that is bound to happen. But, man, I’m glad I don’t live in Jack Bauer’s America.
First off, there were eight presidents in 14 fictional years, starting March of 2002. Somebody had to be in office during Day 1, when Bauer was trying to prevent assassination attempts on presidential candidate and Maryland Sen. David Palmer, who was later elected and served in the next two seasons.
President Keeler took over after Palmer dropped his re-election bid (Day 3). President Logan took over after Air Force One was shot down with Keeler aboard (Day 4). Vice President Gardner presumably took over after Logan was arrested for his involvement in Palmer’s assassination (Day 5). Wayne Palmer, David’s brother, was elected into office (Day 6), but was succeeded by Noah Daniels after an assassination attempt left him physically unable to serve. Allison Taylor (Day 7) became the first female president after defeating Daniels in his bid for election. Plus, Taylor was going to resign after Day 8 concluded.
Can you imagine Americans in that scenario? Whether it’s Tea Party activists who didn’t start protesting big government until a Democrat was in charge of it, or anti-war protesters who haven’t done much protesting since a Democrat was commander in chief, we at least had time to get mad at our presidents.
No administration would get reform through if they’re changed more often than the average gym bag.
Second, the terrorists won, and they won a lot. There were plenty of foiled plots — the Day 1 assassination attempts on Palmer, the Day 2 nuclear bomb in Los Angeles and the Day 8 dirty bomb in New York are just a few.
Imagine if those failures were discussed on our 24-hour news networks. We had so-called “strategists” (re: failed campaigners) pitching hissy fits to end 2009 because of a failed Christmas terrorist attack that proved our security worked. You’ll recall a bomber had to hide explosive chemicals in his underwear because any other plot would have been caught, and the amount he stored wouldn’t have killed anybody else if he was successful detonating it.
Now imagine those strategists in “24.” A commercial flight was detonated in the first episode. Air Force One was shot down in Day 4. The city of Valencia, Calif., was destroyed by a nuclear bomb in Day 6, killing 12,000. A pair of commercial flights collided in mid-air in Day 7 after a rogue group hacked into airport communications — the same day a sitting U.S. senator was killed in a home invasion.
I’m glad I don’t live in that America, though I’m sure there are double-crosses throughout our government just the same. Many questions I have about “24” are unanswered, from torture to Bauer’s home life, but maybe it’s best that way.
Now I need to answer this question: How do I spend my Monday nights away from Jack Bauer’s America?