Thursday, May 19, 2005

The West Wing

The old West WIngs are so excellent. Bravo is running a marathon in order, and I just finished watching "The Stackhouse Filibuster." It's one of those great Aaron Sorkin written pieces that was perfect in its elegance.

Each member of the senior staff is writing about their day to a family member. Senator Stackhouse has prevented them from leaving for the weekend because they wouldn't include funding for autism research in a bill.

It turns out that the Senator's grandchild is autistic, and it matters to him. When they realize that, the President tells them to find a way to keep the aged senator from collapsing on the Senate floor. Through ingenuity and a knowledge of Senate arcana, they succeed. A parade of grandfathers comes forward to buy time and offer an education on autism while Josh Lyman gets the money added to the bill.

A written, it sounds dull. But a well written episode can take a meaningless situation and make it a fascinating play on dynamics between people, their ideals, and morality. At the end, it's a story of how people can come together to do the right thing.

The episode where the president sends troops to the imaginary nation of Kundu to intervene in a genocide makes me tear up every time I see it. Last year, I think they ran it on July 4. It's a melodramatic piece, but on July 4, it was a perfect reminder of what America can be and can do when great people choose to work together for that ideal.

Bill Clinton wasn't perfect, but he knew that the nation could be great, and a leader's job was to bring the nation out of the humdrum business of going from day to day and to bring us to that ideal.

I haven't felt the faintest glimmer of that since the impeachment. There's been a low-level war running, each side guarding itself against outright attack. Sure there were feints to space exploration, but selling out the Hubble Telescope for a moon base isn't quite what I want. Chatting about spreading freedom while our soldiers desecrate the Koran isn't quite what I have in mind.

When will my goverment lead again? When will government be about the good for all, rather than gaining some small, temporary advantage?

In 2003, Kos asked his readers to Name three good things that Bush has done. In truth, I still can't name 3 good things. By good things, I mean acts of genuine good will. Acts which are not calculated to get a couple extra votes, or to control a few new seats in Congress or on the bench.

When will we have a leader?