‘My Own Worst Enemy’: Primetime McCain Parable

“My Own Worst Enemy” starring Christian Slater premiered last night at 10pm on NBC. The show’s about an average American guy who doesn’t know he’s also a spy for a morally dubious government agency. I think most people who’ve been seeing the commercials while trying to watch football think this thing is going to flop. I don’t think it will. Christian Slater, now a grown-ass man at 39 years of age, is sneakily good, and in a spy vehicle he’s just relatable enough to keep other 39-year-olds flipping back to NBC between changing baby diapers, taking the trash down to the curb of their cul-de-sac, and softly chuckling at Tony Kornheiser jokes during yet another MNF blowout. At 10 or 10:30 last night, while the Giants were killing the Browns (*wrote this last night. won’t even try to wriggle out of it. hubris.), imagine how many 39 year-olds in the burbs were choosing between staying with the MNF game, having sex with their spit-up-stained wives, or checking out Slater’s new spy thriller. If you were 39 what would you have chosen? NBC’s got that crafty psychology.

But that’s beside the point. Whether the show runs for 3 episodes or 3 seasons, the profile of the main character rings a bell. Slater’s Henry/Edward Jekyll/Hyde hero is an upstanding American guy, average Joe, fiscally conservative – the kind of guy you go to with advice about your portfolio – while his alter ego is an impulsive, aggressive war-monger – the kind of guy you root for to shoot other guys until the other guys is you. We meet Henry/Edward right when the maverick Edward starts making messes for upstanding Henry left and right.

Yeah I said it. Maverick. The psychological similarities between Henry/Edward and John McCain can’t be denied. The success of McCain’s political career has rested on his ability to communicate a healthy balance between his bellicosity and his steadfast moral center. He was a maverick you could trust. But after a series of aggressive, transparent campaign maneuvers, the question of his presidential run has become: Wait, is a maverick actually someone we can trust? This is not a question he wants voters to be asking.

Just as super-spy Edward has begun f’ing things up for nice guy Henry in “Worst Enemy,” so too has maverick McCain begun f’ing things up for upstanding war hero McCain in the 2008 campaign. We’ll have to stay tuned to see how these stories end – as McCain’s campaign managers write the last 3 weeks of their candidate’s story, “Worst Enemy”’s creators will work on a strong first 3 episodes for Henry/Edward. We’ll see whether either of them makes it past November 4.

One Response to ‘My Own Worst Enemy’: Primetime McCain Parable

  1. Booya! It’s pretty remarkable how your post made me realize that I may essentially feel the exact same feeling for both McCain and Slater. On the one hand, it’s hard to watch people you at one point liked and even admired (Pump Up the Volume?!) become victims of their own trajectory. On the other, sometimes you get what you deserve. McCain, maybe you shouldn’t have worried so much about rousing the fanatic fringe element of the Republican Party in Waukesha, WI (What’s up, Goerkes Corner Park ‘n Ride!) or insulted the world by selecting for VP the person whom you selected. Then you wouldn’t have to deal with people bringing Sambo dolls to your rallies. Though in the defense of one of those old, blue-haired ladies who said Obama frightened her, Arabs sometimes scare me too, sweetheart. Arabs sometimes scare me too. As as for you, a C. Slater, maybe you shouldn’t have allowed your career to fizzle to such a point that your face and filmography is almost indistinguishable from Stephen Dorf’s. There’s just no excuse for that and maybe you got what you deserved.

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