A couple of years ago when Seinfeld went off the air at the height of its run, TV execs and advertisers threw sitcom pilots at the four mega-stars like rice at a Chinese wedding. Of course they’d be great on their own! They were the epitome of “can’t-miss” projects.Fast forward. Jason Alexander flopped with not one, but two shows, Michael Richards flopped with one of his own. Even the gorgeous and perfect-haired-wonder Julia Lewis Dreyfus crashed and burned with her own show. She’s bounced back with very modest success of late, though her New Adventure of Old Christine isn’t exactly setting the Nielson ratings afire. As for Jerry Seinfeld, to his credit, he went back to his strength – standup – and has thrived.

All were fabulous in their previous roles and on paper looked like show-leading Emmy winners. They might have been the greatest hypothetical show-headlining TV stars in history.

Sound familiar?

Senator Hillary Clinton has a lead role in one of today’s most successful political shows. Both sides have largely praised her work in the Senate and she’s proven herself an able legislator and who can dance nicely with both the Left and Right. But most importantly, she’ll never be cancelled. Hillary could out-serve Thurmond and Byrd combined if she’d like. Her seat defines the very term “safe”.

Now unless you were camped out for a new PS3 since 2000, you know Hillary is preparing to officially announce her run for president. Right now she leads her rivals on the left by healthy double-digit margins. She’s the only candidate who can raise money by flying over states at 30,000 feet; she doesn’t even have to land. People tie their wallets and ATM cards to helium balloons.

In a very crowded field, Hillary is the lead horse by every sane estimate.

Yes, junkies, Senator Hillary Clinton is the greatest hypothetical candidate in history. When pollsters call and ask, “Would you vote for woman?” folks say yes. Of course they do, because they aren’t actually voting for a president on the phone, they’re answering with a verbal “yes” or “no” or pushing a touch tone number. And when moderates and independents are asked specifically whether they’d support Hillary, many also say “yes”. Of course they say yes, it makes them feel progressive. It makes them sound and feel open-minded. By the same token, I might say “yes” if I was asked whether I’d vote for Ann Coulter, but I’d think twice, at least, before making it official on Election Day.

Many respondents to these early polls mean what they say. They would vote for Hillary, and they will vote for Hillary when the hypothetical becomes a touch screen monitor in a tiny polling booth shielded by a blue curtain. But will enough early supporters still feel that way when it matters? Doubtful. They told focus groups they’d watch Jason Alexander’s dreadful Bob Patterson and Cosmo’s Michael Richards Show, too. We all know how those turned out.

Derby fans, there is a deep cavern between cocktail party vote pledging and pulling the trigger in November of 2008. The Hillary Clinton for President show might look great on paper, but expect voters to tune out when it matters.

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