Among the most meaningful words spoken on the West Wing. Continue reading … looking for a mind at work.
Its like this.
Only with Trump instead of Josh, and it is real life. Yet, less like real life.
Trump, remembering something about watergate, tweets:
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
and the Washington Post reports:
Trump suggests there may be ‘tapes’ of his private conversations with former FBI director
Trump experiences verbal diarrhea and says, “In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’”
Trump said he was thinking of Russia controversy when he decided to fire Comey
Trump’s press office is incompetent and the White House can’t keep its message straight, what with all those reporters asking all those questions, so Trump sarcastically tweets:
As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
…Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future "press briefings" and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
Trump threatens to cancel White House briefings
And those are just the examples I ran into this morning. This has been happening for months.
Donald Trump needs to learn this thing: When words come out of he president’s mouth, policy is created.
The press needs to learn this thing: When you play the run-up game with a moron like Trump, it makes you look like a bully at the beach kicking sand in someone’s face. Someone we all love to see getting sand kicked on him, sure, but still… you may want to get a different approach to dealing with this president’s random idea puking. Like, for example, always mention that no one takes him seriously.
Here, I’ll give you an example.
The Washington Post wrote:
Trump threatens to cancel White House briefings because it is ‘not possible’ for his staff to speak with ‘perfect accuracy’
President Trump threatened Friday morning to end White House press briefings, arguing that “it is not possible” for his staff to speak with “perfect accuracy” to the American public.
Trump’s comments come after his description of his decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey in an NBC News interview Thursday flatly contradicted the accounts provided earlier by White House officials, including Vice President Pence, exposing their explanations as misleading and in some cases false.
[Trump said he was thinking of Russia controversy when he decided to fire Comey]
In a pair of tweets sent Friday, Trump suggested he might do away with the daily press briefings at the White House and instead have his spokespeople communicate to the public only via “written responses.”
What WaPo should have written:
Trump bathroom tweets snide remarks about the American Press, threatens freedom
President Trump sarcastically tweeted from the White House Commode Friday morning to end White House press briefings, arguing that “it is not possible” for his “surrogates” to speak with “perfect accuracy” to the American public. Clearly, he doesn’t know what a “surrogate” is, because he’s really talking about his staff. Surrogates are different.
Trump’s comments come after his nonsensical and random attempt at describing his decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey in an NBC News interview Thursday did not match, because it was nothing other than the random blathering of an ill man, entirely different lies provided earlier by somewhat more articulate but no more honest White House officials, including Vice President Pence. While one might normally assume that the President’s account of what happened in a conversation he was actually in would be the gold standard, and other comments by other White House personnel, if contradictory, would be incorrect, that is not an assumption we can make in the Trump White House.
[Trump also stupidly stated that he was thinking of Russia controversy when he decided to fire Comey, in a different and equally alarming squirt of verbal diarrhea.]
In a pair of tweets sent Friday, Trump sarcastically whined he might do away with the daily press briefings. Nobody gave a fuck.
That’s how to do it.
The West Wing Version:
Josh, Toby, Leo, and Donna are in Leo’s office. They have just gotten word that a major auto manufacturer plans to build a plant in Mexico, and will likely close a corresponding plant in Michigan. Josh is pacing, Leo is behind his desk, Donna is standing near the door, and Toby is sitting in a chair smoking an unlit cigar. All four had just come from a poker game with the President and others.
Josh Leyman: Screw the auto industry. If they decide to move another plant to Mexico, we just slap a 35% tariff on them!
Leo Mcgarry: That won’t go well, Josh, and you know it. A tariff like that would send the Mexican economy in to a spiral. That won’t help the regional economy in more ways than I can mention.
Toby Ziegler [Voice raising noticeably at the end of the sentence]: “Not for nothin’, but the last time a leak from the White House even intimated that we might take retaliatory action against industry in Mexico, the Peso dropped like a slider in Yankee stadium!
Josh Leyman [Frustrated]: So what are you saying, we just let them move their plant, move these jobs? We made promises to the Unions. I made promises to the union.
Donna Moss: You made promises to me too, Josh. I don’t see you getting upset about that.
Josh Leyman [Casually]: Yeah but that’s you, who cares.
The President enters the room. Toby and Leo stand, but the president waves them down. Leo sits down but Toby remains standing. Donna back a foot or so towards the door. Josh put on his little boy face.
President Bartlet: That’s right, we made promises. We made promises to the auto industry, and we made promises to the American people. As I recall, we’ve even kept some of them. But we also made a promise to be smart about all of this, about the choices we make. I chose to believe that the American People, in all their wisdom, despite Hamilton’s original incredulity about that, picked a boring Economics Nobel Laureate to run this place because they wanted us to be smart about some of this stuff at least some of the time!
Joshua Leyman: That’s right, Sir. But what do we do?
The President and Leo look meaningfully at each other. The President walks out of the room without another word. The rest of the staff turn to Leo, expectantly.
Joshua Leyman [directed at Leo]: Well?
Leo McGarry: We do nuthin’ … Absolutely nuthin. If we say a word that makes us look like we’re even going to send our Great Aunt Tillie down to Mexico to complain about this, the Peso will be in the dumps, and nine automobile companies will scurry south of the border to set up plants in an economy so devalued they’ll be able to produce the same car they would produce here for 30,000 for the cost of a box of donut holes and a cup of coffee.
Joshua Leyman [resigned voice, moving to head out of the room]: Yeah, I suppose the best thing to do is sometimes to do nothing.
Donna Moss [coy look]: And you should be good at that, Josh.
[fade to black, flentle music]
[Donald Trump is sitting on the toilet, paging through his facebook feed. He notices a news item about an American Auto company’s plans to close a plant in Michigan, and open a similar plant in Mexico.]
Donald Trump [yelling]: Kellyanne get in here! Where is that Conway bitch?
Kellyanne Conway [from outside bathroom door, off stage]: The bathroom door is locked, Mr. President Elect. What can I get for you?
Donald Trump [yelling]: Tweet this: US Auto co moves to Mexico? I don’t think so! 35% Tariff! Make America Great Again!
Kellyanne Conway: Yes sir, is that all sir?
Donald Trump [yelling]: That’s all, go away.
[ten minutes later]
Donald Trump [yelling]: Kellyanne get in here! Where is tha…
Kellyanne Conway: I’m right here sir, what can I do for you
Donald Trump [yelling]: Tweet this! I’ll make American businesses play fair! Not like Crooked Hillary!
Kellyann Conway: Thank you sir.
[Next scene, two weeks later, Kellyanne Conway is outside by a news stand, purchasing a copy of the Washington Post. The camera zooms in on the headline.]
WaPo Headline reads:
“Mexican Economy Tanks. Entire North American Auto Industry Initiates Plans to Move to Mexico.
‘I sure hope Donald’s wall has a big door in it to let some of these cars into the US. If anybody wants to ever drive a new car, that is!’ quips GM CEO.
I had been utterly unengaged with with TV about the time that I met this particular cute girl, and she told me that she love the West Wing and watched it every week. There was, if I recall correctly, one more episode showing in the penultimate season, and we watched it together. I liked it.
We then watched, mainly via Netflix DVD rental, but also, borrowing her parent’s Season Five DVD’s, the entire rest of the show prior to the beginning of the final season, Season 7. Then we watched Season 7 together. It was great.
Eventually, two things were to happen. One is that I re-watched the entire series from beginning to the end. The other is that I married that girl. Not necessarily in that order.
I know that if you are reading this, and you are not a Turkish hacker, or a science denier come to harass me, you also love the West Wing.
My daughter Julia and I typically quasi-binge-watch (it takes us months) a particular TV show. We had finished off The Walking Dead, and Bones, and old favorite, had gone stale on us. (No deeply disturbing psychotic killers on the horizon, as far as we could tell.) So I tried out the West Wing on her, and she liked it. We plowed pretty quickly through the first couple of seasons, but there has been very little TV watching lately.
Then, I heard about The Wet Wing Weekly. This is a podcast by Joshua Malina and Hrishikesh Hirway. Josh Malina played Will Bailey on the West Wing, and has done a number of other famous roles in productions such as Sports Night and Scandal. Jrishikesh Hirway is a super fan of The West Wing, who is a musical artist and expert podcaster.
So, here’s what you do. You watch one episode of the West Wing. Start with the Pilot. Then you listen to the Podcast.
Warning: So far, at least two of the Podcasts have not been about a specific episode. These were great podcasts, but if this is your first time watching the West Wing, avoid them for now because they are full of spoilers. The main episodes of #TWWW do not include spoilers. They are very careful about that.
Malina and Hirway analyze and discuss the episode you just watched. Malina has worked extensively and intensively with West Wing creator Alan Sorkin, and Hirway carefully researches each podcast, so their commentary is penetrating, interesting, and apt. Also, the podcast is expertly edited so it is very smooth.
The West Wing Weekly Podcast often, nearly weekly, has a guest, often a star of the show, or someone else involved. Sorkin may someday be a guest on the podcast.
The conversation on #TWWW is cumulative. Ideas and concepts are developed over time, and terminology evolves. You could jump in any time, but to get the full effect, start at the beginning. And always watch the episode, then the podcast.
There is a web site, here, and comments are allowed on each podcast. Interesting information (AND SPOILERS SO BE ALERT) pops up in the discussion section, including corrections or expansions on what was discussed. You’ll see some of these comments coming. For example, in one episode of The West Wing, The President notes that “The era of big government is over.” The moment I heard that on the show, I was reminded of President Clinton saying the same thing, and also, that this was a reference to President Reagan, almost a bit of pandering to his supporters in Congress, and yet another demonstration of Democrat’s fruitless efforts to pretend like the two parties can talk to each other. Malina and Hirway noted the phrase, seemed perplexed by it, and clearly did not remember Clinton’s words. But the commenters fixed that!
One of the things Malina notes that I should pass on now, is that he watches the West Wing episodes with closed captions turned on. He does this for various reasons, but the result is that sometimes you pick up on dialog that one might otherwise miss, like in the case shown in the image above. If you are listening only, the words shown here in the CC are overtalked by another actor, and easy to miss. In other cases, the words that come out of the actor’s mouth and the words on the screen are simply different, in a way that really does look like a change in the dialog has happened, some last minute editing of the script.
Hey, if you are going to rewatch, or re-rewatch, or even re-re-rewatch, a TV show then listen to a podcast about each episode, then you are operating at a level where these details matter.
I watch the West Wing on Netflix, but you can also get the entire show on DVD.
And, if you are interested in what your grandmother was up to when she was little, pick up a copy of When My Grandmother Was a Child: 9. If you can find it.