Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Theatrics of Politics and Every Day Life

If only real life were like "West Wing"...

One of the great pleasures of fiction is you get to see the scenes you would like to see in real life play out.  President Bartlet (of New Hampshire, no less) confronts a talk show radio host at a White House reception for talk radio stars. It is one of those occasions he is supposed to be sucking up to all the Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannity's of the world, and he starts off with the stuff his staff has written for him to say, about the importance of talk radio, the great responsibility these radio heads have in shaping public discourse,  but he is distracted by one woman, and he cannot continue with his prepared remarks. She is a fetching blonde and at first you think he's just attracted to her, but then you realize he knows her and he's listened to her show and he slides into his remarks about what he's heard her say on her show:

I have a Ph.D. in English Literature.

I'm asking, 'cause on your show, people call in for advice and you go by
the name of
Dr. Jacobs on your show. And I didn't know if maybe your listeners were
confused by that,
and assumed you had advanced training in Psychology, Theology, or health care.

I don't believe they are confused, no sir.

Good. I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an abomination.

I don't say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President. The Bible does.

Yes, it does. Leviticus.


Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had
you here.
I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned
in Exodus 21:7.
(small chuckles from the guests) She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent
Italian, and always clears 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, LeoO 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, 'cause we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes us 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?

It's one of those moments we (i.e., all right thinking liberals) would just love to see, but never will, except as Aaron Sorkin can deliver them. 

And then, there's the Ann Coulter look alike, the right wing lawyer spokesman for the right, who loathes President Barlet and all who sail with him, until she gets to see them in action, and then she is won over, at least she is convinced they are not demons from hell, just well meaning, if misguided.  She arrives at a restaurant to meet two conservative friends after a day at the Bartlet White House, where she has gone to decline the offer of a job in the White House counsel's office as a lawyer, but she has seen the staff in action and seen their commitment and passion to what they do. Her unctuous, conservative friend, Bruce asks her about the people there.

Did you meet anyone there who isn't worthless?

[quietly] Don't say that.

Did you meet anyone there who has any-?

[more firmly] I said don't say that. Say they're smug and superior, say
their approach
to public policy makes you want to tear your hair out. Say they like high
taxes and
spending your money. Say they want to take your guns and open your borders,
but don't
call them worthless. At least don't do it in front of me.

Bruce and Harriet exchange a look.

The people that I have met have been extraordinarily qualified, their intent
is good.
Their commitment is true, they are righteous, and they are patriots.
[after a moment, with tears in her eyes] And I'm their lawyer.

From Season Two, the West Wing

The fact is, people and life are not like this.  In the real world, you might think of eviscerating the right wing talk show host, but you would not bring yourself to creating such an uncomfortable scene, and in the real world, no right wing zealot who has spent years cultivating a hate and contempt for liberals would be able to see into their souls and respect them. 

But it's pretty to think it.

No comments:

Post a Comment