I have watched three whole seasons of The West Wing in the last seven days. Mostly out of boredom and the need for something to occupy my mind, but also because I have been thinking a great deal about John Spencer and how his passing will affect the dynamic of the show. I've come to the conclusion that Leo McGarry was the central character, next only to the President. His hand was dipped into almost every storyline and his presence was well known and respected.
How I hadn't noticed before is beyond me, but after watching season two, I have decided that the only other person that understands and appreciated the following quote by John Kennedy as much as I do is President Bartlet (or shall we say Aaron Sorkin, the writer):
The political world is a very interesting life. It allows the full use of your powers. First, there is the great chess game. It's the battle, the competition. There's the strategy and which piece you move and all that.
Until I re-watched a season two episode titled "The War at Home," I hadn't taken into account the great respect President Bartlet has for chess as it pertains to politics. When I began this blog I named it "The Political Game" because of the Kennedy quote. I am not very good at chess, but I can appreciate it's meaning and significance. In the episode, when Leo informed President Bartlet that they had lost this one and he responded by saying they had lost it six moves ago, that's when it clicked. That was the moment when I realized I hadn't ever noticed the connection between chess, the quote, and my favorite television show. It is no wonder that I like The West Wing so much.
Since I watched the episode I have been thinking a lot about the blog, mostly about my seven day absence, but also about how I had chosen that lighthouse template after having completely ruined my patriotic theme with too much tinkering. The template was meant to be temporary and now I have a new revamped blog. One that more clearly represents the meaning behind the title and one that I think I am satisfied with for the time being.
One last comment on the passing of John Spencer. In that same season two episode, Leo says something to the President that I think may have been the moment, if the jury was still out at that point, where I decided that Leo was my favorite and the star of the show.
If I could put myself anywhere in time, it would be the cabinet room on August 4, 1964 when our ships were attacked by North Vietnam in the Tonkin Gulf. I'd say 'Mr. President, don't do it. You're considering authorizing a massive commitment of troops and throwing in our lot with torturers and panderers, leaders without principle and soldiers without conviction, with no clear mission and no end in sight.
If there was ever any question at what point I was sold on the greatness of The West Wing and that Leo McGarry is the central character and my personal favorite, if I had to pinpoint it, that would be the moment.
1946 - 2005