Lawrence O'Donnell and Richard Stengel

Save The West Wing--Vote for Gore
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Aug. 10 2000 12:28 PM

Lawrence O'Donnell and Richard Stengel

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

Lawrence:

Advertisement

Sorry for my radio silence this morning. I had wall-to-wall meetings. Now that I'm a manager, I have meetings. When I was a writer sitting alone in a room, I yearned to go to meetings. I dreamed about meetings. A meeting would make my day. Meetings made me feel important and connected to the world. Now, of course, I hanker to be alone in a room every once in a while. Which I am now, for a few minutes at least.

I actually think the question of whether a Bush administration would hurt The West Wing is an interesting one. First, full disclosure: I've seen only a few episodes of the show. I watched originally because of your connection to it, and then I even watched a few others despite that.

Anyway, I think the show does get some frisson of fascination because of the implied (implicit?) comparison to the Clinton administration. It's why a roman à clef gets buzz; we're trying to figure out who the characters are. It certainly helped Primary Colors. (And certainly hurt its sequel.)

Yes, Bartlet is an aspirational figure. He is the liberal beau ideal; Clinton without the polling and the blow jobs. (Which reminds me of a Lieberman joke someone told me today.) The show, in fact, is sentimental, but we have a greater tolerance for that when it involves patriotism. If Bush wins, some of the air will go out of the balloon. There will be none of that, 'Oh, is that the guy who's supposed to be George Stephanopoulos?' You can't measure that, of course, but I'm sure its there.

What is Bartlet without Clinton is a fair question. What would Dr. Strangelove be without the Cold War? There's a reason John le Carré doesn't write about Russian-American espionage anymore. It's lost its heft. There's nothing to play against. I suspect President Bartlet will seem anachronistic during a Bush administration. He'll seem, well, more fictional.

Anyway, I'm late for a meeting.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?