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April 16, 2006
It was a BIG block of cheese
President Josiah Bartlet: "We hold these truths to be self-evident," they said, "that all men are created equal." Strange as it may seem, that was the first time in history that anyone had ever bothered to write that down. Decisions are made by those who show up.

I watched the West Wing when it was under Sorkin's brilliant handling. (I tried to watch it after he'd left, but I have a massive distaste for shows that are "rrrripped! from the headlines!")

The memory of those first three seasons lives on in my heart, for so many reasons. For wit. Drama. Passion. Courage. Absurdity. I've never seen a television show that matched it for sheer, heart-stopping beauty.

A lot of people are paying tribute to the show across the 'net. Me, I just want to thank Sorkin et. al., for giving television a show worthy of the power of the medium.

President Josiah Bartlet: Good. I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an abomination.
Dr. Jenna Jacobs: I don't say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President. The Bible does.
President Josiah Bartlet: Yes it does. Leviticus.
Dr. Jenna Jacobs: 18:22.
President Josiah Bartlet: Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I have you here. I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? While thinking about that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff Leo McGarry insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police? Here's one that's really important because we've got a lot of sports fans in this town: touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? Think about those questions, would you? One last thing: while you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the Ignorant Tight-Ass Club, in this building, when the President stands, nobody sits.

And for giving a voice to the liberal ideals upon which this nation was founded.

We know the difference between television and reality. We know that we may never see an Administration this full of idealists and clean-handed politicians and operatives, trying that hard to do right by everyone.

But the show offered us a vision of what politics could be. What it should be, if elected officials really care about doing the right thing and if the opposition is principled (and not always wrong). And, at its best, it offered us a view of the issues, the compromises, and the pitfalls of political office, a view that we could use as a yardstick to measure what is happening around us. A view and a goal.

C.J. Cregg: There were 36 homicides last night. 480 sexual assaults. 3411 robberies. 3685 aggravated assaults, all at gun point. And if anyone thinks those crimes could have been prevented if the victims themselves had been carrying guns, I only remind that the President of the United States was shot last night while surrounded by the best trained armed guards in the history of the world.

I loved the unashamedly liberal politics, of course, but there are issues that cross Party lines and TWW dealt with those. Who can forget Ainsley Hayes? She was "the enemy" but she was also the voice of the sane Republican Right. She spoke for those issues where there are at least two "right" positions, with as much courage, compassion, and conviction as any liberal on the show.

Sam Seaborn: Mallory, education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don't need little changes. We need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be making six figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defense. That's my position. I just haven't figured out how to do it yet.

They handled the issues I care about and introduced me to some issues I hadn't even considered, with passion and commitment and a clarity that's lacking in today's political debate. It's not just that Aaron Sorkin is a certified genius, dialogue-wise. It's that his characteres knew what they believed. They stood for things, thing that were about more than just winning elections.

President Josiah Bartlet: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Do you know why?
Will Bailey: Because it's the only thing that ever has.

And, yes, not the least, I want to thank them for the Big Block of Cheese. As a symbol of good government, the idea that there is food put out so that any who are hungry might eat...that's a beautiful thing.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:59 AM


There's no question the show hasn't been the same; the new producers come from ER and the prevalence of emotionalism over policy debates has been tiresome. But it'll be over soon and I'd like to see how they end it.

It still has great moments: the two candidates independently deciding that they would not contest close state election results, to give the American people a clear winner and loser, was pretty good television. Completely unrealistic, but very gratifying....

But I miss Aaron Sorkin.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at April 16, 2006 02:20 PM