Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. From time to time, a reflection on the movie will appear below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “The West Wing” (1999-2006).
I’ve been watching “The West Wing”, a series written and produced by Aaron Sorkin. It ran for seven seasons in the early two-oughts. It gave Americans a real behind the scenes look at what it is like to work for a President of the United States. Though the President in the series was a Democrat, he could just as easily have been a Republican.
It is not easy working for a President of the United States in the West Wing of the White House. As long as the staffers are on the job, they get little sleep. Sometimes they will work as long as forty-eight hours, then go home only to have to come back to the White House in four hours because there is a crisis in a part of the world they can’t even pronounce. And often they are not appreciated for the valuable work they do.
The series dealt with terrorism, assassination, kidnapping of the President’s daughter and so many other problems the modern Presidency might have to deal with. We complain when a President takes two weeks off in the summer and goes on vacation. The truth of the matter, as we see in “The West Wing”, is that Presidents doesn’t get a vacation even when they are on vacation.
All this has led me to give some thought about politics and politicians. The Founding Fathers were politicians. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were politicians. Often on different sides of an issue. Yet, through a lot of blood, sweat and tears, they hammered out the Declaration of Independence. With more blood, sweat and tears, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay and a bunch of other folks in the room gave us one of the greatest documents in human history. The Constitution of the United States. All were politicians. Pretty damned good ones too.
Abraham Lincoln was not only a politician. Even worse, he was a lawyer. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush were politicians. Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower were politicians. In previous lives, Truman had been a haberdasher and Eisenhower was a general. Once they ran for election, they became politicians.
Politicians have given the American people some terrific things. They gave the country the Erie Canal, the 13th Amendment (and all the other amendments), the United States Interstate Highway System, the Tennessee Valley Authority (which gave much of the South electricity) and the G I Bill. It took the vision of a politician to think the United States could put a man on the moon. It took political vision to believe that we could bring down the Berlin Wall and re-unite the Germans.
Yet we hate our politicians. We hate politicians so much we are willing to elect the supposedly non-politicians Donald Trump (a real estate developer), Ben Carson (a neurosurgeon) and Carly Fiorina (a former CEO of a computer company). Could it be that we expect them to wave their magic CEO wands and make wonderful things happen? Because these folks are telling us that they’re not politicians.
Bull double hockey sticks. When a person steps into the political arena and asks for votes, he or she is a politician. And it will take a truckload of political ability to move heaven and earth to get their agenda considered, much less done.
The moment one of them becomes president, they are going to be hit with a ton of bricks. And it’s going to hurt. Bad. All of them, including Donald Trump, will be given a cup of humility. They had better drink the hemlock or they won’t get a darn thing done. As Abraham Lincoln and our Founding Fathers knew.
The first thing they are going to learn is that the President of the United States is not a CEO. The Prez can’t just order things to be done and expect them to get done the way a CEO can. He can’t even order his cabinet to do what he wills them to do. God help him or her if they think they are going to get Congress to do their bidding. If they even try, they will get pie in the face, then handed their head to them on a platter.