Considering the referential way my brain works, it’s not all that surprising that political news often makes me think of the West Wing. This is especially true of majors speeches, as the show focused so much on the communications and speech-writing element of the staff.
Last night, President Obama gave his non-State of the Union speech (meaning, Presidents don’t actually give SotUs their first year, so it was technically a budget speech to a joint session of Congress). One of the things some of the talking heads mentioned was the Attorney General Eric Holder was spending the speech in “an undisclosed location.” This is essentially a precaution in case disaster struck at the capital– it ensures that the country would have a legal ruler from the line of succession in charge.
It made me think about one of my very favorite episodes of the West Wing, “He shall, from time to time.” It is, technically, an episode that is about the President having an attack related to his still-secret MS, while his staff attempts to prepare his State of the Union address.
What it’s really about, though, is the friendship between President Bartlett and his chief-of-staff, Leo McGarry– the great love story of the show. In this episode, Leo finds out about the President’s illness just as he’s preparing to deal with his own personal crisis– revelations about his own past alcohol and drug abuse. Leo wants to take care of the President– that’s why he wants to avoid embarrassing him with his own failures and that’s why he is angry that the President never told him about being sick.
But it is anything but a one-sided friendship, and the President stands by Leo, completely and strongly, and at the end of the episode, both the audience and Leo get to hear the President explain just how much he needs Leo.
Also, apropos of nothing really, I have to admit that one of my stranger habits when watching a speech like this is the sort of obsessive way I watch the Vice President and the Speaker. I don’t know why, but I always end up watching them more than the President. It’s ’cause I’m creepy, I guess, though not as creepy as Dick Cheney during the State of the Union.
Anyway, last night was no exception, and I have to say, Pelosi was crackin’ me up. I kept thinking “Oh Nancy, I know that look.” That’s the look I get on my face when I get to see someone really cool who I like speak, and I can’t quite stop myself from smiling but I’m trying REALLY HARD. I would imagine that the barely contained contempt she has had on her face for two years worth of State of the Unions simply blossomed into barely contained joy. She does it the ENTIRE TIME, and it is hilarious.
I couldn’t really find a picture that captured the hilarity, so this will have to do:
But, you know, watch a clip of it, and pay attention to Pelosi. You’ll see what I mean.