Disillusioned democrats, pouting progressives still have their president. Not Bill Clinton, of course. He’s out of office, steeping in a new swamp of scandals. Not Al Gore, either. He’s back in school.
It’s nobody in the wings like Ralph Nader or Joe Lieberman. It’s someone in the west wing already, and not George W. Bush. President Josiah Bartlett is the chieftain the good guys never got in real life: he’s a New England Catholic, a Democrat who’s principled and plenty tough enough to fight for gays in the military and reparations for the descendants of slavery.
The TV ratings success of “West Wing” on NBC Wednesday nights can be taken as proof that Democrats are better at drama than they are at politics. But Republicans can see it too as a better picture than journalism has ever given us of the staff passions, the fights for face-time and the president’s mind that are the eternal stuff of White House politics.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)
Bob Thompson, Professor of Media and Culture at Syracuse University
Chris Lehmann, senior editor of Washington Post Bookworld
and Larry O’Donnell, writer for “West Wing.”