“Designated Survivor,” the new political drama that stars Kiefer Sutherland as the president of the United States in the wake of a terrorist attack that has wiped out most of the government, aired its second episode, “The First Day.” One comes away with the unmistakable desire for Sutherland’s Tom Kirkman to be president in the real world than either person whom we are likely to get. Kirkman is a fundamentally decent man who thinks things through and, despite being woefully unprepared for the role he has been thrust into, proves to have a mind like Machiavelli’s.

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Most of the episode involves the governor of Michigan suddenly deciding to round up Muslim Americans in his state whether they have done anything wrong or not. Things get decidedly ugly when a Muslim youth is savagely beaten by police while Kirkman is trying to do a Bush in the rubble, addressing first respondors in the ruins of the Capitol Building. The moment is ruined as the media, seeing the atrocity on their phones, demands to know what the president is going to do about it.

Faced with the choice between being impotent and sending in troops to deal with an insurrectionist governor, Kirkman finds a clever way to defuse the situation.

He lies to the governor by telling him that three deep cover Homeland Security agents have been swept up in his dragnet. Since he lacks the security clearance to be informed who those agents are, he needs to release everyone who has not been charged with actual crimes. The alternative is to be arrested for impeding a federal investigation. The Michigan governor caves.

The other developing story is the growing realization that the terrorists have left an unexploded IED as a way to misdirect America and entice an attack on a terrorist group that was not responsible.

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One continues to hope that the real terrorists are not the Hollywood mainstay of right-wing businessmen and generals.

The episode ends with Kirkman returning to the ruins of the Capitol incognito and personally thanking the first responders without the media to record it. Kirkman is a president with real potential for greatness, sadly unlike the current occupant or either person vying to succeed him.