Nick Reiher: I Can’t Get Too Excited about Politics These Days

commentary editorial opinion

By Nick Reiher

Liberal porn.
That’s the cute name some have given to “The West Wing,” a show focused on the internal workings of a fictional Democratic White House.
Regardless of your politics – although I would assume more Democrats watched or will watch – “The West Wing” is an amazingly well-written drama that manages to intertwine the personal and work lives of more characters than even Disney could have dreamed up.
If you have time, google West Wing quotes. You will be entertained by dozens upon dozens of bon mots coming from the mouths of major and minor characters. They may also lead you into the full episodes, many of which are standouts for one reason or another.
There are two Thanksgiving-related episodes that rival “WKRP’s” legendary “As God as my witness …” take. One is about pardoning turkeys; the other, the “Butterball Hotline.” And you will learn that is a familiar voice on that hotline. Wicked funny.
And then, there is the “Bible Lesson,” which still, and likely always will be timely.
If you were to base your idea of government on the wonderful quips and memorable scenes, you might think, “Geez, I wish my president and Congress were this smart.”
Yet, often, these precious moments are drop-ins amid the larger picture. And if we get a chance to see the larger picture, we find that like so many other ensemble dramas, there are no perfect characters.
I had a chance during a week off to catch a lot of “The West Wing” marathon. It had been a while since I watched the show, so I forgot just how petty and, dare I say it, political these characters could be in between their glib moments.
I mean who wouldn’t want a glib, Nobel laureate as president? Except he conceals a life-threatening condition from the public that earns him a censure from Congress.
Speaking of glib, there are a couple of speechwriters in love with their words, so much so, they sometimes forget they are writing for the people; not the president, and each other.
If they do write something for “the people,” often it’s with polling numbers in mind, either nationally or a particular congressional district they need to keep happy.
Now and then, these people who work literally in an ivory tower most of the time, get to talk to a regular person. More often than not, the person cares more about why they are middle class (remember them?) and still struggling to pay the mortgage and put kids through college.
Or maybe that it’s great more jobs have been created, but why do I have to work three of them to keep up?
And here, I thought porn was supposed to be fun; not reality.
“The West Wing” ended just before the recession hit. Things have gotten worse since then, except for a massive increase in political divisiveness crippling both parties, while eliminating the middle ground.
I’d say it would be interesting to see how a West Wing remake would handle all this. Except we all get enough of it, 24/7, if we want it.
I guess all I can say to politicians these days is, get your crap together. Fewer and fewer of us care about party. We want our elected officials to work for us. Make things better. Safer. We want to see a Middle Class again, and more elected officials willing to reach across the aisle.
And get right on it. This is what we’re watching now.



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