Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The New West Wing

Back around 2000 when people asked me why I loved the TV show The West Wing
I would reply that it was the best Science Fiction show on. When I was given a quizzical look I would explain, "A competent Democratic administration? Only in Sci-Fi." Of course that joke got a lot less funny as the Bush administration dragged on...

Tammy and I loved the West Wing (as well as pretty much anything created by Aaron Sorkin) and for a long time Wednesday evening was "West Wing and Chipoltle night" The show centered on President Josiah "Jed" Bartlett (played by Martin Sheen) and the staff of a fictional Democratic controlled White House.

I see in Barack Obama a lot of similarity to the West Wing counter part. Both men are Christians whose faith plays a huge part in their decision making. (Martin Sheen reportedly petitioned creator Aaron Sorkin to have the President's Catholicism play a central role in the show). Despite this, both are often the targets of the radical right wing for being too "liberal". Both are dynamic, smart, and compassionate and refuse to see the Republican Party as the enemy (even when their staff tend to).

(This clip is an excellent example of Aaron Sorkin's ability to portray Christianity in a positive light...and how I would like a President to act)

And as a side note BOTH are closet cigarette smokers although in these enlightened times both are forced to hide their smoking orientation in the closet. When are we going to realize people don't choose to smoke... they are born that way!

Sorkin always said that The West Wing was meant to invoke a JFK Camelot atmosphere. Despite the popularity of two term President Bill Clinton, the Camelot comparison has not been more appropriate than at the dawn of the Obama administration.

Lest my Republican partners (and yes I am a Republican) think I have cracked and "drank the kool-aid" let me assure you I have not. But I have been more impressed with Obama lately. I am not convinced yet that he has the substance to match his incredible style...but I'm willing to take a second look.


Paul said...

Those West Wing writers had a crystal ball. Their fictional presidential election of 2006 featured;
- a long-shot Democrat (Santos) from an ethnic minority vs. a white, aging Republican (Vinick) with considerable experience
- the Democratic nomination was not tied up until late in the game making the DNC more interesting than usual
- Santos was given the Democratic nomination over another with experience working in the White House (the former VP, a Hillary-type establishment figure)
- turning points in the Democratic nominee's campaign were brilliant speeches that inspired hope; like Obama he refused to be defined by his race
- like McCain the Republican nominee had personal values that conflicted with those of the Republican base (Vinick was not a believer) leading him to choose a more conservative running mate; he thought ethanol subsidies were a bad idea and he wanted more nuclear power
- the Republican was a shoe-in until an unforeseen crisis late in the campaign swung the pendulum towards the unlikely Democrat
- during the campaign the US found itself bogged down in hostilities in Central Asia; the effect of this was to put a dent in both the Republican's tax plan and the big projects of the Democrat
- and of course, the young, photogenic Democratic beat the wrinkled and ageing Republican

Sherry said...

but I'm willing to take a second look.

This statement is profound - if only everyone was willing to "take a second look." (no matter what the topic).

Instead we are all so sure, each of us, in our self righteous smugness that we know the truth and we alone have THE answers.

Thanks for this post.

The West Wing series is available on netflix. Stephen loved the show, so we are going to re-watch the show season by season.

By the way, prayers for PE Obama are totally appropriate.

Steve H. said...

Paul: Excellent comparisons! Tammy and I are working through the series again and are on season 5 so I'm looking forward to those Season 7 episodes

Sherry: Yes, if people were not so interested in making the "other" side the enemy, we'd be a lot better off.

Redlefty said...

Alas, a TV series I do not have time for yet...

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