Two Political Worlds
We’ve all done it. We tell ourselves that we’ll do it- not now, but later. Today’s not a good time, but tomorrow is.
“I have time on the weekend, so I’ll do it then.” you say, with incredible determination.
The weekend passes.
“Next one!” you vow with a fist pump, undeterred.
Your alarm goes off on Monday morning….and it reminds undone.
Days, weeks and months go by, and it remains undone.
You look back and wonder, what could have been? What memories, experiences, goals could have been made or achieved?
Before you know it, the chance is gone. It slips through your fingers, and you don’t get another.
I’m urging you, do something today, not tomorrow. Take action now, not later.
Before it’s too late.
If you don’t, that show you wanted to watch will no longer be streaming.
Red herrings aside, I recently had the same experience with The West Wing. (TWW) I’ve had it on my watchlist for several years, but some other show, usually darker and raunchier, came up.
That being said, with the show’s removal (along with Dexter’s, yikes!) from Netflix to HBO Max on December 25th, I’ve decided to give Aaron Sorkin’s TV classic a gander and see what the fuss was about 20 years ago, when my biggest concerns were completing my Pinewood Derby Cars and acing spelling tests.
I haven’t been disappointed so far. It’s witty and engaging. It shows a government that works for and cares about those it governs. Sure, there’s idealism in there, yet it reflected a less jaded, less cynical time.
One of the funniest moments for me, far more skeptical than I was 20 years ago, was a little conversation about how President Jed Bartlett did in Texas. Press Secretary C.J. Gregg wants to talk about his sense of humor. While campaigning in the Lone Star state, Mr. Bartlett said to the press he doesn’t do well in big hats.
While no one seriously thinks it costs the president the state (allowing for an amusing lesson on a Latin phrase) the fact it was even brought up at all shocks me. It’s a statement so benign, so milquetoast compared to today’s modern political fare it’s hard to believe the show and the country I’m living in are the same.
What would happen if this scene took place now?
Gregg: Mr. President, we need to talk about your sense of humor.
Bartlett: Why C.J.? Am I not a comedian?
G: You said that Texans are incestous hicks whose only hard choice in life is f — king their horse or their sister.
B: What’s the problem?
G: A Gallup poll just came out, sir. 60% of voters think your joke doesn’t go far enough, and have concerns about your toughness on the world stage.
B: F — k those incestous hicks!
G: Say that on camera next time, along with the middle finger.
Yesterday, I watched “Take This Sabbath Day” which concerned itself with a man on death row whose appeal was denied by the Supreme Court on a Friday. The man is sentenced to death on 12:01am Monday. President Bartlett agonizes over the course of a weekend the precedent of commuting a man who many believe should die. In the show, 71% of Americans support the death penalty.
Interestingly, the Trump administration plans on executing five prisoners on federal death row before the January 20th inauguration. “Not since the waning days of Grover Cleveland’s presidency in the late 1880s has the U.S. government executed federal inmates during a presidential transition,” according to Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center. Usually, ‘lame duck’ presidents defer to the policy preferences of the upcoming administration. President Trump supports the death penalty, while President-elect Biden does not.
Americans’ support for the death penalty has declined to 55% as of 2020, a ten plus point drop from the mid to late 1990s according to Gallup.
This is yet another way in which watching the TWW is both worthwhile and jarring. President Bartlett’s dilemma of pardoning or not pardoning a death row inmate while weighing both sides of the capital punishment argument is more understandable than the Texas lawsuit to overturn votes in other states and the peculiar decision to executive five death row inmates in direct defiance of the upcoming administration.
I encourage you to do the same!