The West Wing last night (19 January 2005)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/01/20 02:05 -05:00, original URI:

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about last night's West Wing episode (365 Days) just yet.

I'm going to type/dictate here about it for a bit and maybe I will know by the time I am done. There are two sections in particular that interested me....

Leo McGarry is back, looking at old State of the Union tapes as everyone else is moving quickly in and out of various crisis situations. In other words, everyone but Leo is doing normal Bartlett White House stuff -- but he is just post heart attack, so thats probably okay.

Then later, Leo is taking Toby Ziegler to task about how Toby used to take chances in the State of the Union but that this time he "played it safe" in the last one the president would ever give:

Toby: What are you doing here, Leo? Watching old speeches and reading about the founding fathers. We don't have time for you to sit around like a garden Buddah parsing our fortune cookie wisdom. We're getting buried alive here; get up and grab a shovel.
Leo (Quoting): "While the assault weapon ban may have ended, the debate has not. And I will fight this congress as long as the senseless, needless violence continues."
Toby: Second Innaugural.
Leo (Quoting): "The promise of stem cell research has again been delayed by congressional ban. Imagine a child paralyzed by a spinal cord injury... watching, waiting, knowing that politics is the obstacle to a cure."
Toby: Third state of the union. I know what we said. We all know what we said.
Leo: Last night's state of the union, you pulled your punches.
Toby:  (pauses) It was well received.
Leo: It's easy to applaud for something that no one is going to make you stand up and pass. (Quoting) "By any measure, we are losing the war on drugs. Demand is exactly the same, supply is the same, but prices have gone down. It's time for a comprehensive new approach to this nation's dependence on drugs."  That was in your rough draft for last night's speech.
Toby: I cut it.
Leo: Who told you to?
Toby: Nobody. Nobody had to! You've had a heart attack and he can't stand up! The day after every other state of the union the president launches a month-long roadshow to stand up for what was in it. This year I get Bingo Bob and a week!

That night, Leo and Jed Bartlett are eating dinner, talking about the day, and about the speech.

Jed: You have a chance to figure out what you want to do around here?
Leo: Have you?
Jed: Don't do this, Leo. Not the day after the State of the Union.
Leo: Everyone's walking around here like we're finished. We've got 365 more days.
Jed: It's year eight, it's a republican congress, and i'm hemorrhaging staff.
Leo: Four years ago we announced a blue ribbon commission on entitlements. Why wasn't that it mentioned? Two years ago, you announced a committment to stem cell research.
Jed: The legislation died in congress. Leo, you held the wait-
Leo: What happened to the drug treatment policy?
Jed: We had to narrow our focus-
Leo: Now's the time to widen, not narrow focus. What are you saving your political capital for?
Jed: I have a responsibility to the party-
Leo: You have a responsibility to the country, sir. (pauses) The American people sent you here for two terms. Eight years. So the last one is going to be harder. I've never known you to shy away from a fight.

Jed: I've never had to make a speech based on the maximum amount of time I could stand up.
Leo: Those excuses I kept hearing all day. Nobody mentioned MS. (pauses) 272 words. That's all Lincoln said at the Gettysburg address; it took four minutes -- and set the tone for the next century. (pauses) You wanted to talk about what I can do here. It's this.
Jed: Said the man with the double bypass.
Leo: For both of us, sir, this is our last game. Let's leave it all out on the field.

Ok, I was right -- after that stall, I know how I feel about last night's episode. It was a really good one.

It is way too easy to worry about what I used to be able to do that I can't. And it's too easy to forget that I can still do a helluva lot if I don't do too much of that worrying.

I am really glad that John Spencer was around to remind me. Thanks, John (also Mark Goffman and Andrew Bernstein, the writer and director of this episode).

I think I will speaking at a User Group meeting in a few months. Maybe I shouldn't make any assumptions, but I doubt I'll do anything as significant as the Gettysburg Address.

Maybe I'll have a good joke or two, though. I'll mention when it is in case anyone who is local wanted to pop by....

# David Candy on 21 Jan 2005 10:16 AM:

Hoy, Mr International,

TV schedules aren't uniform world wide. I'd appreciate that you don't do TV previews, at least for shows I watch. The WW is late night summer fare here so it's a bit old.

Besides Abby is the only one worth talking about.

# Michael Kaplan on 22 Jan 2005 3:37 PM:

Well, it *is* the episode I watched on that day. I can certainly post to warn people of spoilers if there may be some.

As to whether Abby is the only one worth talking about, I think that depends on who you talk to and what they are watching for. The character certainly shares many traits with doctors who I refuse to see anymore....

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