First, I have to admit that I loved The West Wing. I remember the coming attractions in the summer of 1999 (hard to believe that was nearly ten years ago...ouch!) The cast, the acting, the directing, the plot, I loved it all. Well, at least at first. I think the show did "jump the shark" in 2001 with its rather bizarre fantasy/reality attempt at making sense of the senselessness of 9-11, but apart from this, it was some of the best television of my lifetime; and I HAVE watched a lot of TV.
I remember running into Jimmy Smits one night on a street in Santa Monica. I was looking at one of those cheeky California dress shops that were over the top in design and outrageous in price. Looking into the window I was muttering to myself and turned to my colleague to made some more disparaging remarks about the absurdity of the shop wares and the apparent idiocy of the locals for shopping in such a place when I recognized Smits standing two feet from me. It caused me to stop mid-sentence and do the proverbial double take. Our eyes met and he had clearly heard what I had said. I smiled and nodded. Years of driving a taxi cab in NYC had taught me to not fuss over celebrities. I knew they generally appreciated to be ignored when in this kind of public setting. I nodded at Smits and he nodded back, his arm clenched around a diminutive young woman who probably loved this dress shop. Later I thought of many wonderful and witty things that I could have said at that moment: "Hey, Jimmy, what's two guys from Brooklyn doing in a place like 'dis?" But I held my tongue and walked off.
So, when Jimmy Smits turned up as the quintessential "minority" candidate to run for the presidency to replace President Jed Bartlet, I felt a sense of completeness and pride. After all, Jed Bartlet and I were practically neighbors. The character played my Martin Sheen was supposed to be the distant direct descendant of the real-life Josiah Bartlett, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence. From 1979-1983, I lived in the town of Bartlett, NH and worked in the Josiah Bartlett Elementary School. It only made sense in my fantasy that my old neighbor from NH would be replaced by my old neighbor from Brooklyn.
When Barack Obama appeared on the scene some 20-something months ago, his eyes firmly on the White House, I immediately thought of The West Wing, President Bartlet and Congressman Matt Santos. Honestly, I secretly thought Aaron Sorkin might have been snorting a little too much of the happy stuff when he came up with that plot line. It was too much of a stretch, even for Hollywood.
In the beginning I thought the same about Obama. Twenty month later and four days before the biggest election in my lifetime I wonder if my fantasy will continue.
We will have to stay tuned to see how the plot turns out. But, I must tell you...I am praying for the same outcome.
Please remember to vote on November 4th. The world is counting on you!