Baker’s Dozen: “The West Wing”

Although I have to be up in a few hours, I can’t sleep. So it’s fitting that there’s an episode of the “West Wing” on Bravo right now, now at 3:20 in the morning. I can’t yet write how I feel about Obama’s win, but the one thing I know is that it’s fitting that I’m watching a show that gave me so much comfort during the Bush years.

The “West Wing” offered denial + civics lessons, and it fed my inner political junky. It was also porn for liberals, saying so well things we only sputtered out in debates with our right-leaning friends and family members.

We will never forget the moment President Bartlet called out the right-wing radio host for spreading her bile:

When James Brolin played a version of Shrub (years before his son Josh Brolin went on to portray Dubya for Oliver stone…coincidence? hmmmm), we thrilled at the language Sorkin & Company gave us to describe precisely what we didn’t like about President Bush (clever to make Brolin from Flordia…just like Jeb Bush, who was supposed to be the next Bush in the White House…hmmmm). Bartlet’s description of Bush’s anti-intellectualism is perfection: “But you’ve turned being unengaged into a Zen like thing, and you shouldn’t enjoy it so much is all”

Of course, the part of me that loves Western movies and David Mamet’s aggressive dialogue cheers at Bartlet’s final line. Watch.

I lost interest in the series in the final seasons, and even Jimmy Smits as the Latino Obama couldn’t quite pull me in, but from time to time, I slip back into the Bartlet White House and cheer on the heroes behind the scenes. C.J. Cregg, Josh, Toby, Charlie, Mrs. Laningham. Next to the “Mary Tyler Moore” show, I think it’s an almost flawless ensemble show.

We got a taste of Aaron Sorkin’s genius in one of Maureen Dowd’s columns. He writes a dialogue between Bartlet and Obama. It’s funny and quick, and if you read it while walking very quickly you can feel like one of the cast members of the show.

Bartlet explains to Obama, I didn’t have to be president of America, I just had to be president of the people who watched ”The West Wing.”

Now President-elect Obama has invited us out of denial.

Baker’s Dozen: “The West Wing”

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