Wednesday, December 1

The West Wing

First I have to admit that I've been as addicted to The West Wing this past year as I was to Saturday movies when I was a child. I think I've seen every episode at least three or four times since I found the reruns on Bravo during a recent illness. I've developed quite an attachment to several of the characters, especially CJ, because she's tall like I am and because she reacts exactly the way I would in any given situation. Then there's Donnatella Moss, who reminds me of my oldest and dearest friend. Of course I love Charlie, Margaret, Josh, Toby and Leo, too.

Because of the issues they're involved with I've come to realize how little Democrats understand Republicans. Although they give lip service to the other side, they really don't "get it" and their alternate-stand arguments rarely touch real points.

I laugh at their mistakes (their reseachers make some serious goofs sometimes -- like having Air Force One fly out of Nashville instead of Knoxville after the "President" visits Oak Ridge). Dumb mistakes like that just add to my enjoyment -- as did the "President's" argument against homosexuality in another episode. I guess their main problem is that they can't tolerate Republicans enough to have one on their research staff. But never mind -- it's a great show and it's amusing on multiple levels.

But listen to what their producer recently said: "I don't see any way to write 'The West Wing' for current Bush voters. I couldn't possibly write a heroic president who goes to war for an announced reason that turns out to be false and changes his story about how he went to war. There's nothing in the Bush presidency that holds up for a 'West Wing'-style presidency, which is a fundamentally honest and honorable administration." --Lawrence O'Donnell advertising his need for a check on reality

Now let's get this straight. President Bush went to war in Iraq on mistaken intelligence that was so invasive that many other nations including the UN had the same reports. Also, he hasn't changed the reason he went to war; he has simply said it looks like we had bad intelligence.

On the other hand, the President in "The West Wing" intentionally deceived his staff and the electorate (he excused it by saying he didn't know he was going to win) about a serious illness (multiple sclerosis) and went through almost an entire year of episodes trying to clear that mess up. The situation became even more complicated when the staff discovered that the Chief of Staff was not only a recovered alcoholic but had been involved in drug therapy. That was not exactly above board and honest, was it?

Besides, The West Wing has never been written for Bush voters. That's part of its appeal to this conservative. The issues have always been liberal ones and the writers take obvious glee in shouting down what they conceive as conservative issues as in the tirade the President lets loose on a "conservative" reporter on the homosexuality issue mentioned above.

But the idea that the President portrayed by Martin Scheen is somehow more "honest" and "honorable" than President Bush is a HUGE laugh. Scheen's president curses God in one episode and keeps the press at bay while he invades a country in another. He deceives his wife and his staff when he decides to run for a second term. You'd think dealing with situations like that, fiction though they are, would make the writers, producers and actors more sensitive to the problems of a sitting President. Perhaps, though, the fact that O'Donnell and crew can make their situations come out the way they want makes them immune to reality.

And besides, that whine can give O'Donnell an excuse to quit. The show is, after all, six or seven years old. I'm loving CJ as Chief of Staff and see a romance coming between Leo and his nurse but what the heck, it's all for fun isn't it? Well, isn't it?

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