West Wing, Kerry, and Some Bad Flashbacks
“West Wing” went out of its way to take a few cheap shots at Jay Leno last night, and it was really quite stupid. The storyline was that Jay wanted the presidential candidate Santos to appear in a Robin Hood sketch wearing green tights. I assume you’ve seen the Tonight Show? Does anyone remember a presidential candidate doing anything like this skit, especially 5 days before the election? The West Wing writers must have stumbled across Aaron Sorkin’s old stash of mushrooms. No, wait, it’s not even that creative. It was just a pointlessly weak putdown. They also went out of their way to give David Letterman a compliment.
Meanwhile, Leno goes right on drawing the numbers while NBC struggles, and shows like West Wing fade. Why? Partly because the writing isn't as good as it used to be, back when Aaron Sorkin was holed up in a hotel suite in Beverly Hills, stoned out of his mind.
It also made me wince on a personal level when I thought back to the presidential campaign of 2004. As a freelance writer, I’ve always avoided working for politicians but after watching President Bush in action, I felt I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t try to do something. I basically applied to all the candidates opposing President Bush, and it was early in the process. That’s how I got bumped up to David Wade, who was very important in the campaign, and remains with John Kerry to this day. We exchanged a bunch of emails, mostly with me in shock at the caliber of material the campaign was turning out. Kerry’s campaign was in the midst of some kind of egomaniacal preppie grudge match, complete with overconfidence, smugness, and positioning for their jobs in the administration. I offered to sit at my computer and respond to things like the swift-boating with some hot lines. I mean Kerry still has shrapnel in his leg from Vietnam, and these chicken hawk punks were making him look weak on the military. It remains one of the most aggravating and perplexing campaign responses I’ve ever seen.
So it came down to them requesting a reference, and Leno agreed to take the call. The phone number was given out, but the Kerry campaign never rang. They never followed through on their own request for a reference.
After the election, I received an email from David Wade with his new email address, and his plans to stay in the game. He said John Kerry was fighting mad now about the campaign. Great, just in the nick of time.
I used to write to David Wade that there was a line floating around in the untapped vastness – a line that could win them the presidency. Why not hire me to try and write it, especially when their stuff was so lame? Maybe Kerry decided to hire me before he decided not to, I don’t know, but the whole process made me sick.