Good news for the hundreds of millions of you out there who aren’t watching a show that the critics love: You’ll have at least another year to ignore “30 Rock.” Despite low ratings, NBC has renewed the show for another season.
The relative handful of us who do watch (fewer than 7 million most weeks) enjoy the program’s offbeat humor. It’s goofy, but sometimes manages to stumble across a good point. Even if it doesn’t mean to.
Consider a recent episode. Some employees learn that, because he’s a member of a secret society at Princeton, they can force their boss to leave the room by saying “twig and plums.” To show how powerful this society is, 30 Rock includes a clip of Donald Rumsfeld at a Pentagon news conference.
“Twig and plums,” yells someone in the throng (a reporter for Healthy Tree magazine, perhaps?) and Rumsfeld instantly concocts a flimsy excuse and ducks off the podium. Quite droll. The confident and powerful Defense Secretary, forced from the scene by a yahoo yelling gibberish.
But the show’s choice of examples is interesting. The real Rumsfeld was an influential leader and a recognizable face. But he left office after the 2006 congressional midterm elections. That’s three-and-a-half years ago. A lifetime, in politics.
Since then, a woman has taken over a Speaker of the House, a black man has been elected president, and Barack Obama has rammed through a sweeping new entitlement program. So 30 Rock actually raises a question here: after more than a year in office, doesn’t President Obama have a powerful (and thus mockable) underling?
But that’s the real joke. He doesn’t.
Quick: name a former Bush cabinet member. Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and John Ashcroft leap to mind. You could also probably identify Condoleezza Rice and Michael Chertoff. Now: name a current cabinet member. Go ahead, take your time.
Let’s see: There’s Hillary Clinton -- is she still the Secretary of State? Oh, sure, she was at a pro-Israel gathering a few weeks back. “As I have assured you on previous occasions with large groups like this and small intimate settings,” she hollered (Clinton never seems to give a speech. She yells them). “For President Obama and for me, and for this entire administration, our commitment to Israel’s security and Israel’s future is rock solid, unwavering, enduring and forever.”