Magazine article The New Yorker

The Talk of the Town: Snookered by Bush

Magazine article The New Yorker

The Talk of the Town: Snookered by Bush

Article excerpt

In America, we don't have shadow cabinets or governments-in-waiting. What we have instead is "The West Wing," NBC's drama about a White House staff that, compared with the Bush White House, has bigger offices, better haircuts, more Democrats, and many, many more people eager to filibuster about policy as they walk down the hall looking for coffee. As the show's creator and writer, Aaron Sorkin is essentially the country's loyal opposition. And in that role he has some questions.

The first point Sorkin raised, speaking last week from his quarters at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles, where he was writing another episode of the show, is that something has gone awry in the media's representation of the President. "President Bush seems to be handling things very well, and I support him one hundred per cent," Sorkin said. "I also think it's absolutely right that at this time we're all laying off the bubblehead jokes. But that's a far cry from what the Times and CNN and others on whom we rely for unvarnished objectivity are telling us, which is that"--his voice took on a worshipful tone--" 'My God! On September 12th he woke up as Teddy Roosevelt! He became the Rough Rider!' "

Among these hagiographies, Sorkin said, was NBC's look at a day in the life of the Presidency, "The Bush White House: Inside the Real West Wing," which aired as the lead-in to a "West Wing" repeat a few weeks ago. "The White House pumped up the President's schedule to show him being much busier and more engaged than he is, and Tom Brokaw let it happen--the show was a valentine to Bush. That illusion may be what we need right now, but the truth is we're simply pretending to believe that Bush exhibited unspeakable courage at the World Series by throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium, or that he, by God, showed those terrorists by going to Salt Lake City and jumbling the first line of the Olympic opening ceremony. The media is waving pom-poms, and the entire country is being polite."

A more accurate perspective, Sorkin suggested, can be seen in a forthcom- ing documentary by Alexandra Pelosi called "Journeys with George." "It's about life on Bush's campaign plane, and the White House is worried about it because it shows the President in an amateurish light." (In one scene, as members of the press mix Margaritas Bush wades into the throng, announcing that "it takes an animal to know an animal.") "And I just began reading Frank Bruni's campaign book," Sorkin continued, referring to the Times reporter's "Ambling Into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.