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Thursday, February 28, 2008

If not 'The West Wing,' then its candidates?

click to enlarge jimmy2.jpg

(Sony Pictures Classics)

It feels like it's been a decade since "The West Wing" went off the air, and I'm still waiting for a TV show that matches its blend of wonkish politics and lofty idealism whipped into a compelling and witty dramatic narrative. Maybe that's because, in 2008, I'm pining for Jed Bartlet as my president, because Martin Sheen portrayed a greatest-hits/composite president that was one part John F. Kennedy, one (small) part Bill Clinton and bits of other Democrats who deserved a closer look but never made it to the White House.

But that's not to say the TV series' legacy exists in a vacuum, as Slate's Torie Bosch notes in this fascinating "Life Imitates 'The West Wing'" video posted today. Seems the parallels between Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain and "The West Wing" last-season candidates Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits), Bob Russell (Gary Cole) and Arnie Vinick (Alan Alda) are more than merely coincidental. Seems that a "West Wing" writer had picked the brain of an Obama political consultant while shaping the Matt Santos character, hence Santos' lofty rhetoric of hope, change and tolerance. And while the Vinick/McCain parallel apparently wasn't so consciously crafted, here's one Democrat who wouldn't mind seeing McCain in a Santos … er, Obama cabinet.

Check out the clip.

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