Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The West Wing: Wake-Up Call

Since Gilmore Girls is a rerun tonight, I'm catching up on my TiVo. I'm half-way through the episode of TWW that aired sometime around Valentine's Day. It's reminding me why I love this show. I stopped watching for a while after Aaron Sorkin left, because I couldn't imagine the show being as good without the writing, and for a while it wasn't. It was too dramatic, too spectacular spectacular. It still has elements of that, but the weaving of the story is back.

Tonight's episode is about government organization, primarily the separation of powers and the role of the executive branch, in addition to the provisions about emergency government. I know that 25th amendment says that if the president dies or otherwise leaves office, then the vice president is in charge. (Remarkably, this amendment wasn't made until the 1960's!) We learned that the hard way, when Zoey was kidnapped and Jed temporarily stepped down from office because he couldn't deal with the situation rationally. Unfortunately in that situation, the vice president had just left his office vacant due to scandal, so the new president was a pompous Republican speaker of the house.

But I've also learned from earlier episodes that when the president is incapacitated (say, is undergoing emergency surgery), it's not so clear who is running the country. In that episode, it seemed to be a group decision, led by the Chief of Staff. This sparked a bit of controversy later on.

Anyway, so now we're dealing with a failing preseident. --Haha! No, I meant on the show. And I meant physically failing, as in ailing, ill, sickysick, not dumb. President Bartlett's multiple sclerosis is wreaking havoc on his ability to perform the role of the president. (That seems to be the theme of this season, anyway.) Tonight (or rather a month ago), CJ is doing a balancing act between Jed, who wants to be president, and Abby, who wants Jed to take a nap. As if sleeping will keep his myeloid sheaths from deteriorating. Part of CJ's coping mechanism is to take on more responsibilieies (read: make more decisions) herself. Hmm. As much as I love CJ and hate the new VP, she wasn't elected. Hmm.

Meanwhile (and this was thrown in just in case you didn't get it before), Toby is meeting with the founding fathers of Belarus, who are attempting to write a constitution and create a democratic government. (The constitution writer, Lawrence Lessig, is played by Doc Brown. Oh, and I also noticed that this episode was directed by Laura Innes.) Toby, touchy about how much power Jed has to flig about willy nilly without the checks and balances of those with all their myeloid sheaths intact, suggests a parliamentary system to the Belarussians. "No, we don't want a parliament! We want a strong president!" Toby argues that (according to some Yalie bozos) the presidential system is one of the most dangerous American exports.

Heh. They also mention the electoral college, and imply its ridiculousness. Are the writers being too obvious in their political commentary? Heh.

Anyway, I'm full of false hope that there will be some sort of resolution to the problem of the malfunctioning-but-omnipotent president. Back to the remote.

1 comment:

  1. Right. So the episode went downhill from there. No resolution, and no real plot events. Just, "Mr. President, you shoudl take a nap." I blame it on Miss World.