Sunday, May 14, 2006

What's Next?

Tonight I said goodbye to several friends with whom I had spent time almost every week since 1999. The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin's drama about life at the White House completed its journey with the inauguration of new president Matthew Santos and the retirement of Josiah Bartlett, whom for seven years we watched as the fictional President of the United States. The terrific ensemble cast of Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Stockard Channing, Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff, Allison Janney, Janel Maloney, Dule' Hill and the late great John Spencer have finished their two terms and moved on.

My farewell will be without the poetry and wit of Toby Ziegler (Schiff) and Sam Seaborn (Lowe), who for seven years wrote the speeches that gave Josiah Bartlett's presidency its voice.

The West Wing has undoubtedly been my favorite program on television. It was an hour a week I was able to share with my dad, who like me was an amateur political historian. The time I spent watching this program was a good investment. The characters in this story were good and noble people, sometimes all too human, but who were brilliant, empathetic, arrogant and humble all at once.

The West Wing showed us a possibility of what our government could be. Certainly, Aaron Sorkin showed us the inspiring acts of good people, but he also showed us the doubt, the terror and the deep conflicts that our leaders have to face. The show has made government real again for me. It has reminded me that our leaders are not perfect or all-knowing. It has shown me that no special powers of wisdom nor intelligence are bestowed on those who are in public service. It shows that like most of us, these people work hard, very hard for something they believe in.

I like a lot of Americans, would rather have Jed Bartlett as president that George W.Bush or Bill Clinton. But, that is not the real. What is real is that we the people have an obligation to use our votes carefully in deciding who will be our leaders. We should remember that even after a president takes the oath of office, he or she (one day, hopefully) is still human.

There are so many wonderful moments in this show that I won't attempt to recount them here. I strongly recommend that those who do not know the show rent the DVDs that are available or read some of the recaps that are hosted on "Television Without Pity", a website devoted to recapping and discussions about popular television series. Double Click on the title of this post and it will take you to the site.

Tell me what you think,



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