MOVING LEFT RIGHT: I suppose it should have seemed inevitable that these last few years would have been seen wild political and social polarization, but for a moment in the fall of 2001, the shouting match that began with the Florida recounts in 2000 looked like it was being subdued. It seems like a long time ago now, and one of the more dismal side-effects of the 9/11 attacks has been the needless politicization of almost everything, especially in the entertainment business.
In an opinion piece written for the New York Times, Family Ties creator Gary David Goldberg speculated just who his most successful creation – the character of Alex P. Keaton, played by Michael J. Fox so convincingly that the actor personified the yuppie striver for the first decade of his career – would support today. Goldberg runs down the list of candidates, imagining that Keaton would "appreciate (Ron) Paul’s intellectual power" and "really like Mike Huckabee’s ideas of getting rid of the IRS," before finally imagining that he "would be intrigued by Obama - impressed with his eloquence and intelligence," and would seriously consider voting for the junior senator for Illinois.
Now, speculating about what a fictional character would do after the final credits have rolled or the last page ended, even if it’s done by the character’s creator, is an amusing but ultimately pointless game. Good fictional characters make indelible impressions, and Fox’s Keaton ended up doing that, thanks to an accident of fortuitous casting, responsive writing, and zeitgeist. This after all is the character who idolized Ronald Reagan and – even more radically, then as now – Richard Nixon, worshipped the free market, looked askance at his father’s job at a local PBS affiliate, left home for a career on Wall Street as the series ended and – as we learned fleetingly in an episode of Fox’s next series, Spin City, went to Washington the same year as Barack Obama as the junior Republican senator from Ohio.
It’s hard to imagine someone so willing to rebel against his parents’ boomer politics in the ‘80s doing such a drastic middle-age about face, except when the square peg is being stuffed into a round hole in what reads like just one more partisan agenda. Even for fans of the character, it’s more plausible to imagine him as Fox often has – just getting out of jail for insider trading.
Goldberg qualifies his Keaton fantasy by declaring himself a registered independent, though "I vote Democratic most of the time but not always." He also admits that – like most of Hollywood, it seems – he’s a friend of Hillary Clinton. "I think she’s a warm, funny and caring person of formidable intelligence," Goldberg writs. "I admire her, and I would love to be able to say that Alex would vote for her. But I don’t think it could happen." That, by the way, is probably all you need to know about why Clinton has been doing so badly in the Democratic primaries, if you hadn’t figured that out by now.