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Saturday, September 28, 2002
Are we watching the same program?

I discovered via The Cutlery Channel that the Chicago Tribune has an article on The West Wing. (Registration required to view article.) Now, mind you, I like West Wing. I don't watch it because I am thrilled to see a liberal President in action. I watch it because it is a well written soap opera. But I don't think I am watching the same program as the Tribune.

The Trib:

Sorkin says that this season, generally, will be lighter than last, and that he feels more comfortable writing the show again after a year in which the terrorist attacks left him a little at sea.

In any event, the two-hour opener (8 p.m., WMAQ-Ch. 5) sees President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) on the campaign trail, trying to win re-election against his canny, Reagan-like opponent (James Brolin).


Because Sorkin's statement is about the season as a whole, and only the season opener has aired so far, Sorkin could be correct that the season generally will be lighter than last. But not so far. The opener included the terror bombing of a swim meet in the midwest, with something like 50 dead. Also, from a propaganda perspective, given that this season will undoubtedly focus on the fictional reelection campaign, Sorkin will surely use his soapbox to strenuously push his own particular brand of liberal politics, especially in the run up to the real elections in November.

And the comment (not attributed to Sorkin) about Bartlett's opponent in that campaign, a Republican governor (of Florida!) is just a tad off. Governor Ritchie is portrayed as having both the brains and the political instinct of a particularly stupid chimpanzee. I am willing to admit that Reagan may not have been the brightest bulb in the bunch. I don't think he was stupid, I just don't think that he was in any danger of being saddled with the Nobel prize for economics (unlike Bartlett of West Wing). But whatever you believe about Reagan's intellect, his political instincts were, without a doubt, first rate.
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