The West Wing

Discussion in 'Politics' started by D_Percy_Prettywillie, Aug 17, 2011.

  1. D_Percy_Prettywillie

    D_Percy_Prettywillie Account Disabled

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    When I first started watching this show I didn't have much vested interest in politics. I couldn't vote, I hadn't taken lib and law, and I think the closest I came to being affected by national politics was the arguments my parents had over President Clinton. I was in middle school when the West Wing first started airing but we watched it, religiously, at my house.

    As a progressive liberal I obviously have a bias toward the picturesque representation of a Democratic President presented in the West Wing, but as the years go by, I find it isn't the legislation or even unrealistic portrayal of American politics I'm so fond of when it comes to the West Wing.

    True fans of the show appreciate the way its written and the way that writing portrays government the way too many of us have imagined it did work but ultimately the way it should work.

    Intelligent people, from both sides of the political spectrum, engaging in honest debate (and, lets be honest) political tactics to advance their vision of the country- isn't that what government should be? Regardless of which economic vision you have, in spite of whatever your feelings are on social issues and foreign policy, shouldn't government be a place where issues are not only discussed but addressed and solved by adults in an adult fashion?

    Watching the West Wing today reminds me, more than anything else, that regardless of how absolutely bat shit insane I think a certain candidate or party might be, that they're Americans too... and that as Americans, their opinions and proposed solutions are as valid as mine and as the people I represent- that they should be heard at the negotiating table and that ultimately... "The things that unite us are far greater than the things that divide us."

    On top of being exceptionally well written, The West Wing has an ensemble cast the likes of which (in my opinion) has yet to be out-acted. It's a (dare I use this word) hopeful vision of an idealistic American governance. Just a little closer to that and we might all be better off. But those are just my thoughts on it.

    Any other fans of the West Wing out there? Anyone brazen enough to dismiss it as The Left Wing? Did it ever inspire you to do something? Have you ever quoted it in every day life? I know I have.




    JSZ
     
  2. FuzzyKen

    FuzzyKen New Member

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    The West Wing is one of my favorite shows. As a person retired from the movie and television industry the numerous awards it took over its run is proof of the quality it portrayed and deservedly so.

    I have an acquaintance who is a Retired Congressman. I spent some time with that person some years ago and started asking a lot of questions about how things really do work. There is a great deal of truth to that show. There is a great deal of dramatic license taken, but not offensively so. The largest falsehood in the show is the closeness of Press Secretary C.J. Craig and White House Reporter Danny Kincannon. That would flat not happen. Yet in other places it is incredibly accurate. Far too much importance is given to the character of the White House Chief of Staff portrayed by the late actor John Spencer.

    The one thing that the show does do very effectively is to bring the human side to the entire White House and those who by virtue of election inhabit it's offices and serve the various functions.

    Sorkin, Schlamme and Graves went to great lengths to be as accurate as they could and tell a story of a fictional presidency. At the same time they did their homework in the making of the show and tried to find the true stories that they could use.

    They also showed a truth that many have misunderstood for years. There have, in the History of the United States been many cases where the relationship between the President and Vice President was not very good. The always strained relationship between Bartlett and Hoyne portrays this.

    One of the absolute truths is that the President of the United States is a man that unfortunately is often saddled with the blame for the at times dysfunctional individuals actually in control of various situations.

    This is a worthwhile show not necessarily on all of it's incidents or created situations, but of the structure under which things operate and the limitations the President has.

    I too really enjoy that show and own it on DVD. It is excellent television and a show from which learning is possible if you take the time to learn from it and understand what is fact or representational and what is story line from a script writer.
     
  3. Bbucko

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    Though I don't watch TV any more, I watched it a great deal with my ex (from whom I separated in 2004, after nine years). In fact, we had a three-digit Tivo number :cool:

    The West Wing was a regular not-to-be-missed show. It was, at its time, the best-produced show on TV (except for The Sopranos, in my opinion), consistently excellent by all standards. It was immensely enjoyable to see how current events might have evolved differently, if only Josiah Bartlett wasn't fictional.
     
  4. dandelion

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    Someone commented it makes the whitehouse look much bigger than it really is if you have to work inside it. No room in the real place for strolling down corridors and chatting.

    Regarding the chief of staff, knowing nothing of the whitehouse, I would guess that any prince makes of his court what he chooses. Just saw an episode of the Henry vIII tv series. Rather different in style, but perhaps also has something to say about supreme power and what it is like. In that case, doing a good job was a very personal matter of life or death. But the power one individual has will depend upon the personal trust placed in him by his prince.

    The west wing is a TV series. It must have heroes and villains. It cannot survive with a cast of mediocre averages. In real life this is not the criterion for selection. Going to school with someone may be much more important, because it means you can trust them, even if they are barely up to it. Theres been quite a bit of argument here recently over the merits of upcoming presidential candidates. In the end, it isnt ability which will decide who gets the nomination. Common reasons include who you know or are related to, and blind luck. Certainly all the bad things a candidate can point to in his opponents are just as important as any good ones he has himself.

    West wing chooses its own events. Politicians do not. The west wing has carefully scripted crises designed to build steadily and ultimately present the heros in the best possible light. Oh would a president wish he could do this! Terrible crises but just not quite so terrible that a clever solution cannot be found. Would Bartlett have a magic solution to a deadlocked congress arguing over an exploding budget deficit with utterly no consensus even on what is the correct course to take?All against the background of a world economy falling apart? A sub plot of steadily declining US world influence and real power?

    Yes, the plots are also chosen to make a point. To be a debating chamber and a course in morality. The sort of thing which was said about the first series of start trek. Though I think Star Trek showed a more confident US striding across the universe even than does west wing. Prince Kirk has more absolute power than prince Bartlett and I suspect this reflected real changes in the US between the two. The series was intended to be a lesson to real politicians about how the job ought to be done.

    I have studied a little of the british government at the time of WW1. It was run by aristocrats. Anyone who showed any talent stood a good chance of instant promotion because most people were incompetent to govern. It was full of primadonnas who knew they were right. Real power was held by one or two people. Most of all, you got into it by birth and connection. Why does anyone think any of this has changed? Except perhaps that now there must be an acceptable face presented to the mass of the public. The US constitution was designed to try to minimise this by creating competing centres of power, so at least the three people who control each of the three power centres have to be involved in a decision, rather than just one. No, to be fair, I think a certain mimimum seriousness about the job is now needed to become an MP which was not the case 100 years ago. But as I said, the ability to exercise real power is now hampered by pandering to the electorate. Usuallly in the form of lip service rather than reality, but still a nuisance.
     
  5. ThicknMoan

    ThicknMoan Active Member

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    ah yes LPSG and the West Wing. Its like connecting the dots, isnt it? lol

    I got my roommate hooked on the West Wing boxsets.
    He hogged the TV for weeks watching it.

    Worst mistake ever!!
     
  6. dcsurvivor92

    dcsurvivor92 Member

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    I love the West Wing, and have the complete series. Excellent writing and acting. I am currently rewatching it, and I am up to the middle of season 3. Seven more to go. Like the poster above, my roommate is watching it with me. She never saw it, and now loves it. However, we do one disc every three or four days. It's gonna be awhile.....
     
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