Sunday, April 9, 2006

Election Day Part II (TWW)

Before this episode aired, I was completely prepared to be critical of the writers of the show in this post. In fact I wasn't going to watch it at all, as I wasn't actually home tonight, but caught it while I was off doing other things. Before this episode I was ready to say how absolutely absurd it is to have pictures of the funeral of Leo McGarry on the NBC website before even announcing his death on the show. I was ready to say how irritating it is imply a surprise heart attack when Leo McGarry the character, and John Spencer had a history of heart problems. I was prepared to state how poorly I feel this season has been executed by the writers and how the brilliance just isn't there anymore thus justifying the canceling of this amazing series. Before this episode I must not have known or held true appreciation for serious, dramatic writing.

Knowing that Leo's exit was inevitable, I had only thought of the impact of Leo's death on the Santos campaign. I hadn't given any thought to the impact it would have on the White House. We got only a sample of the impact, through the misty eyes of CJ, the pain of President Bartlet, and the shock of Margaret. Next week's episode will cover the funeral and burial of Mr. McGarry.

Now before I go into quotes and memories, ladies and gentlemen of the fictional United States of America currently living under the Bartlett administration, we have a president-elect. Coming down to a matter of 12 electoral votes, Congressman Matthew Santos won the election with the last state in the blue-column being Nevada. Go figure. I guess this is why they call it fiction...

Both Senator Vinick and Congressman Santos won their home states, but it was certainly an electoral battle. Neither wanting a court case, but obviously wanting the coveted job, they did not ask for recounts. One comment that was made regarding contested electoral votes made me pause for a moment: Nobody votes for that guy again...the one who screams at the ump because he didn't like the call at the plate. Hmm. Interesting as we lead up to 2008, don't you think? There was also a comment on how many Hispanics in Nevada were actually legal...quite the thing to say as people around the nation protest immigration reform.

After next week's episode, it will probably be more appropriate to reflect on the tenure of John Spencer on The West Wing, but that last shot in tonight's episode with Josh standing at the cork board staring at a picture of Leo with Matt Santos, as he whispers "thanks, Boss," and President Bartlet's comment that the "first time I ever met Leo we argued" got me thinking about a quote I vaguely remember from seasons ago:
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? (President Bartlet)
Just as Donna said to Josh when he was trying to blame himself for pushing Leo into running on the ticket, Leo never did anything he didn't want to go and there sure wasn't going to be a chance of talking him into it. Whomever becomes Matt Santos' vice president will have some seriously large shoes to fill. I hope it's Josh. And if not Josh, I hope Sam returns.

Over time, as my interest in The West Wing has grown and as I've set out on certain quests of my own and challenges of my own, I've often thought about something Leo McGarry once said to his staff: "If we're gonna walk into walls, I want us running into 'em full speed." Why not? See, there are lessons to learn from television. Lucky for us both, I only watch one show on a somewhat regular basis!

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