A Race Straight Out of a 'West Wing' Rerun
Op-Ed - Washington Post
May 26, 2008; A17
How's this for a political plot: Good-looking congressman in his mid-40s, married with two young children, known for his inspirational speeches, comes from far behind to clinch the Democratic nomination and face an older, more experienced centrist Republican. If he wins, he's America's first non-Caucasian president.
It's a drama that plays out each day in the papers and through nonstop cable-TV coverage. But some are beginning to notice that it's a rerun. The whole thing was broadcast a few years back on NBC's "The West Wing."
As one who believes Aaron Sorkin's program belongs on a short list of television's finest dramas, I've been fascinated by similarities between the show's Democratic candidate, Matthew Santos, and the party's apparent real-life counterpart, Barack Obama. With Obama's nomination becoming more certain, "West Wing" references have intensified among bloggers and in the British press.
Apparently even Obama's staff is taking note of the degree to which life is imitating art. (They especially like the ending in which Santos, played by Jimmy Smits, narrowly defeats Alan Alda's character, Arnold Vinick, who bears more than a little resemblance to John McCain.)
Here's Santos on the campaign trail: "In a time of global chaos and instability, where our faiths collide as often as our weapons, hope is real . . . I am sure I will have my share of false starts. But there is no such thing as false hope. There is only hope."
How is this happening? Is politics so predictable, even in what some call the most unpredictable campaign ever? Or were the writers of "The West Wing" just that insightful? Turns out, it's a little of both.
Read the full op-ed.