President Barak Obama didn't walk to the capitol to meet with congressional Republicans like President Jeb Bartlett did in the West Wing, but he did make the trip. It was not the first deja vu moment for West Wing fans, and I bet it won't be the last.
The strangest coincidence for me remains the bizarre choice of photo backdrop during the McCain acceptance speech. McCain was pictured in front of a mansion-like building for an agonizingly long time during his speech, prompting even Republicans to question "what is that, one of his mansions?" It turned out to be a Hollywood high school commonly used as a backdrop for TV and movie shoots. Over and above the odd, even disconcerting pairing of McCain with Hollywood, the school was also used as a backdrop for the West Wing scene in which Jimmy Smits announces he is running for president. Add to the story that Sorkin based the Smits character in part on Obama, and the bloggers went banana cakes for a very amusing 48-hour news cycle. Good times, good times.
So why is the comparison between Jeb Bartlett and Barak Obama so ... so ... well, so natural? It might be easy to say that after eight years of wandering in the desert liberal fans of the West Wing simply see their ideals finally represented in the White House. I think it is much more than that.
- Both Barak Obama and the fictional Jeb Bartlett are intellectuals. They are smart, damn smart, and it feels good. The President of the most powerful nation on the planet should be smart and accomplished.
- They are well-spoken. They can string a sentence together that is not only coherent, it can be at times insightful, compassionate, subtle, and inspiring. After eight years of pre-K English it really jumps out at you.
- They comport themselves in a manner that is presidential. It is impossible to define, but you know it to be true.
- They both project an aura of thoughtful, ethical behavior. It is an open-minded, intellectual ethics that is both more worldly and more paternal than the narrow, ideological, fundamentalist ethics of the past administration.
A little Google will lead you to plenty of comparisons and connections between the two. I'd get used to it, I expect more to come.