Wednesday, 1 August 2007


by Ted Hoffman

I'd never seen the West Wing. My brother however is an evangelist for the show, often telling me how good it is.

Last week I was up late working with the TV on in the background, and came across an episode. It must have been a season finale, as the president, played by Martin Sheen, found himself injected with the ebola virus by a crazed nurse. Luckilly she had a cure, with which she was trying to blackmail the president. I watched intermitently wondering how this daft show became so popular.

I finished my work, and couldn't sit through the rest of the show so I turned off. In the proces, my sky box revealed that I had not been watching the West Wing at all, but the film Contagion a B Movie from 2001 that rated 4 out of 10 on IMDB. The man I was completely convinced was Martin Sheen was in fact Bruce Boxleitner.


Ann O'Dyne said...

'4 out of 10' ? Imdb is generous.
The WW inspired evangelical devotion in it's early series when Aaron Sorkin was involved. Later series pale. It is the fantasy presidency we would have in our dreams come true - a sensitive thinking literate man.
A fairy story for adults.
I loved it. *sigh*

Charles Pooter said...

The West Wing is fun to watch, but ultimately it is a modern version of the Platonic fantasy: the philosopher king.

There is a romantic, but deluded notion amongst some American liberals that one day they will get their perfect President: a beacon of benevolent omnipotence at the head of the Executive branch. This is a myth fuelled by the cult of JFK (not the real JFK who ordered the Bay of Pigs invasion, but the alternative-reality Kennedy, who would have ushered in a new Camelot if he had not been murdered).

The romantics who subscribe to this notion are always looking for their Josiah Bartlet, but invariably they end up with a Bill Clinton (followed by a George W. Bush).

The American founders were more realistic. All men are fallible, so they tried to ensure that too much power could not be placed in the hands of the Executive. This doctrine, originally coined by Montesquieu, is called "seperation of powers".

Perhaps American liberals should spend less time fantasising over Josiah Barlet's fictional regime and more time reclaiming some of the power stolen by the Executive branch in the last two centuries.

Edwin Hesselthwite said...

Good old Bruce Boxlietner, eh? Commander Sheridan from Babylon 5... I suppose he does have some experience looking presidential, or at least self-important.

"The West Wing was our last, best hope for peace, a shining beacon on capitol hill, all alone in the night."

Yes, American media goons do love their "leadership" fantasies... Personally I'll settle for a leader who cant get anything useful done, but is competent enough to maintain the economy (looking at you Bill).

Quink said...

Watch the first three seasons. Episode by episode. It is some of the best TV I've ever seen. Delusions simply don't matter with writing of that quality.