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New show is presidency we would like

"The West Wing" showcases the presidency and the inner workings of the Oval Office – the people, the crises, the scandals and the friends and foes.

Friday, October 01, 1999

"The West Wing" showcases the presidency and the inner workings of the Oval Office – the people, the crises, the scandals and the friends and foes.

The characters are tough talking, interesting, multi-layered personalities, with strong contributions to a plot line that often seems to be mimicking the reality of Washington.

And in the starring role is Martin Sheen as the president, a blustery, macho, decisive type who offers one-liners that exude more strength of purpose than whole speeches by the current and immediate past administrations.

Sheen’s character is surrounded by other characters of a similar ilk – tough, edgy and dedicated to the purpose of running the country with honor and strength.

They have their scandals – what would a show about the White House be without a couple juicy little sideshows. They are also human, with faults and conflicts, much as most of us have in our daily dealings with our co-workers.

For those of you who saw "The American President," you will recognize some of the types.

Sheen’s television characterization of what a president would be like is similar to what Michael Douglas did in the movie version. And Sheen’s right hand man in "The West Wing" is awfully close to the character Sheen himself played in the movie.

And since "The American President" is and continues to be one of the country’s favorite movies, there is reason to believe that somebody was paying attention.

The popularity of the movie and the television show say a lot about the way Americans are looking at Washington today.

Both show the type of White House – and leader – we want for our country. We want to think of our president as strong, honorable and ready to take a stand against any foe that threatens us – foreign or domestic.

We want to think, also, that he (and unfortunately most people really only want a he in the fairytale version) is surrounded by tough-talking advisers who would rather lose their jobs than take part in anything that is not above-board or in the best interest of the citizens they serve.

OK, so it is a little bit of a dreamland. What good television show isn’t these days?

"The West Wing" is still in its infancy. It will be interesting to see where the show is this time next year.

But no matter where the plot goes or who takes on the leading role, the fact remains that it answers a need in many of us. We want our own version of the Kennedy Camelot. We want to feel a swell of pride in our government and our leaders.

Maybe we are all just a little envious of the simpler days, when there weren’t quite so many scandals and there was a little less bickering.

It will be interesting to see if the November 2000 election shows a shift in our voting as well.

Renee Carey is a managing editor of The Ironton Tribune.