Monday, October 31, 2005

The Al Smith Dinner (TWW)

There are two things about The West Wing that I have always loved and have kept me an entertained viewer, one is political references like this title and the second is when the writer's refer back to earlier happenings with any of the characters. Call me a nerd, but it makes me feel smart that I know who Al Smith was. Call me a fanatic, it also makes me happy to have something come up in an episode that makes me remember an earlier episode with familiarity. It's like the final scene of the final episode of Seinfeld, only true fans knew what Jerry and George were talking about. The mention I guess of the Al Smith dinner made me feel as if I needed to state what I really love about the show. Now onto the episode...

Will Bailey stepped it up to take the place of fired Communications Director Toby Zeigler. Will is very good at stepping in at unlikely times. He was appointed as Deputy Communications Director after President Bartlett's second inaugural address (an address that Will played a huge role in writing) and as Sam Seaborne went to run for the California 47th when the Democratic candidate died of a heart attack. Why would these circumstances be any different for Will? Granted, the press conferences are heated. The press only want to hear about the leak case and the fate of Toby, they don't care what Will is there to discuss. And yet he stays standing, takes the punches, and calls it a hard day's work. I guess all I wanted to say about Will's entrance (he had previously been the vp's chief-of-staff and key player in the primary election) was how nice it was to see him open the drawer to his new desk in his new office (Toby's old office) and see that stress ball that Toby used to throw at Will's window whenever he wanted him. It was equally nice to see him return later to the ball on his desk, bow and all. I'm sure CJ had something to do with that.

Having watched the entire 4th season of TWW over the weekend, I really want to comment on Toby's actions as far as the leak is concerned and his overall loyalty to the president, but I won't now, it is my only hope from ending with this as a full length novel. Maybe another day.

Donna and Josh have always confused me. At some point Josh is going to have to realize Donna will do anything for him and his causes. Louise hiring Donna as the campaign's spokeswoman to denounce the attack add from the Committee for the Integrity of Human Life (or whatever they're called) was a shock to Josh's system, but Donna once again proved she's more than the blonde, stereotyped, no-luck-in-love, secretary Josh hired. She has grown immensely since she joined the Bartlett campaign 8 years prior and has proven through her work on the vp's campaign that she knows her stuff. Here is my prediction...if Santos wins, they will have Donna has press secretary. Never thought I'd be saying that, but after last night's episode, I think that's what they're staging.

The predicament of the episode is really the key problem with these two candidates, they are both pro-choice. Vinnick, a pro-choice Republican is against partial birth abortions and Santos, a pro-choice Democrat is really for unlimited abortions. Or so it appears on the surface. In all reality and as Santos told Leo, he is pro-life. He believes that life begins at conception. I didn't see that coming, but as Leo said to Santos and as Richard Stallings reminds us often in his Idaho Politics class, you gotta dance with the one who brung you. In other words, you represent your constituency regardless. Abortion is a wedge issue. It always will be. It's a way of driving apart factions of a single party and continuing the separation between conservativism and liberalism. But in all reality a good chunk of the Republican Party is pro-choice and I'm sure a good chunk of the Democratic party is pro-life. I, a pro-choice woman, was once pro-life. In Idaho it's very hard to find a Democrat who is pro-choice. The party's platform has often been changed to reflect the candidates' views on this very issue. It is merely a wedge issue.

Vinnick has a 9 point lead in the polls over Santos. Next week's live debate will be what matters. NBC is carrying this live debate with limited commercial interruption. It will, if nothing else, be an interesting new spin on television dramas. I'll watch just because I do every week, but I would encourage everyone to watch just because it will be pretty sweet. Sundays at 7pm (at least in my time zone).

Oh and one last comment... Al Smith was the first Catholic to run for president. He was a Democrat from New York who won I believe 87 electoral votes (I also believe, don't quote on me on any of this, mostly from the southern states) in the 1928 election against Herbert Hoover.


RightDemocrat said...

Democrats need to move away from the hard-line pro-choice position on abortion. Defending things like late term abortion is killing us in Middle America as it alienates religious voters. There are a lot of pro-life Democrats - the latest addition being our former President Jimmy Carter. "West Wing President" Martin Sheen is also a pro-life Democrat.

Aldon Hynes said...

I found your blog entry about TWW, and I thought I should stop by and add a comment. I am blogmaster for John DeStefano who is running for Governor in Connecticut. A lot of the folks on the campaign are big West Wing fans, so we have decided to 'live-blog' the debate on Sunday.

If you get a chance to stop by and join our discussion, that would be great. The blog is at

Tara A. Rowe said...

Thank you for the invitation, Aldon. The debate was interesting. Look for a post about it tomorrow.

I agree that the Democrats need to move away from the solid pro-choice image, even though I am solidly pro-choice. I watched Jimmy Carter on some of the weekend shows and found his stand admirable. The problem is Democrats don't elect (at least not more than once) strong minds like Jimmy Carter, they elect strong egos and politicians.