In “Vice City,” his review of HBO’s Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a distaff Joe Biden, Kyle Smith of the New York Post explores, “How ‘Veep’ exposes silly liberal agendas and the inanity of Washington:”
For the last 20 years, Washington media’s shorthand for all of this has been the cliché, “Kabuki theater” — everyone pointing out that everyone is just putting on a show — but “Veep” shows Washington to be more like theater of the absurd. It’s about how some of the smartest, most ambitious people get addicted to political power and spend their lives rushing around for the next fix. Political parties are never identified, because the ruling dogma is simply Washington itself.
Selena Meyer (Louis-Dreyfus) spent much of season one trying to set up a clean-jobs panel that looked like a win-win that would punish oil companies by replacing petroleum-based products with those made from renewable resources. “Polluting corporations. Held responsible by me,” Meyer brags. “Dependence on foreign oil. Ended by me.”
On “The West Wing,” this would have been a noble crusade, but on “Veep” we learn how ludicrous the actual end result would be: A rule change ordering plastic utensils in federal buildings to be replaced by corn-starch forks and spoons. Which melt if you stick them in anything hot. Such as coffee.
It’s a plotline that reflects, and seems inspired by, Washington’s endless, bipartisan green-jobs boondoggles, like bankrupt solar-panel manufacturers and massively subsidized electric cars that run out of power every 20 miles if it’s cold outside. Such as in winter.
Of an august “fiscal responsibility” commission, Meyer notes acidly, “Are you kidding me? Not one of those guys has paid for his own lunch in like a decade.”
Preparing to break a tie in the Senate, she vows to vote, “the way my principles and conscience tell me to go.” Awkward pause. “Which way do you think that should be?”
Cut to: Harry Reid saying he would “vote my conscience” for an assault-weapons ban he previously voted against. So America’s senior Democratic lawmaker has confessed to cynically voting against his principles all those years to appease the gun lobby. Now that the gun-control vote is over, are we meant to believe that he reverts to being just another hack for sale?
As Kyle concludes in his penultimate paragraph:
“Veep,” by taking a magnifying glass and a sense of irony inside the Washington sausage factory (Louis-Dreyfuss says Joe Biden’s staffers told her that they have begun referring to various real-life incidents as “ ‘Veep’ moments”), winds up vindicating the conservative view of government.
Why, it’s as if virtually all comedy is conservative, or something.