In the New York Times nearly a week ago, Aaron Sorkin imagined a conversation between Barack Obama and Jed Bartlet:
BARACK OBAMA knocks on the front door of a 300-year-old New Hampshire farmhouse while his Secret Service detail waits in the driveway. The door opens and OBAMA is standing face to face with former President JED BARTLET.
OBAMA Mr. President.
BARTLET You seem startled.
OBAMA I didn’t expect you to answer the door yourself.
BARTLET I didn’t expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a Lancôme rep who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story, so let’s call it even.
OBAMA Yes, sir.
BARTLET Come on in.
BARTLET leads OBAMA into his study.
BARTLET That was a hell of a convention.
OBAMA Thank you, I was proud of it.
BARTLET I meant the Republicans. The Us versus Them-a-thon. As a Democrat I was surprised to learn that I don’t like small towns, God, people with jobs or America. I’ve been a little out of touch but is there a mandate that the vice president be skilled at field dressing a moose —
OBAMA Look —
BARTLET — and selling Air Force Two on eBay?
OBAMA Joke all you want, Mr. President, but it worked.
BARTLET Imagine my surprise. What can I do for you, kid?
OBAMA I’m interested in your advice.
BARTLET I can’t give it to you.
OBAMA Why not?
BARTLET I’m supporting McCain.
BARTLET He’s promised to eradicate evil and that was always on my “to do” list.
OBAMA O.K. —
BARTLET And he’s surrounded himself, I think, with the best possible team to get us out of an economic crisis. Why, Sarah Palin just said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.” Can you spot the error in that statement?
OBAMA Yes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren’t funded by taxpayers.
BARTLET Well, at least they are now. Kind of reminds you of the time Bush said that Social Security wasn’t a government program. He was only off by a little — Social Security is the largest government program.
OBAMA I appreciate your sense of humor, sir, but I really could use your advice.
BARTLET Well, it seems to me your problem is a lot like the problem I had twice.
OBAMA Which was?
BARTLET A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.
BARTLET I was.
OBAMA I mean, how did you overcome that?
BARTLET I won’t lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage.
OBAMA What do you mean?
BARTLET I’m a fictional president. You’re dreaming right now, Senator.
OBAMA I’m asleep?
BARTLET Yes, and you’re losing a ton of white women.
OBAMA Yes, sir.
BARTLET I mean tons.
OBAMA I understand.
BARTLET I didn’t even think there were that many white women.
OBAMA I see the numbers, sir. What do they want from me?
BARTLET I’ve been married to a white woman for 40 years and I still don’t know what she wants from me.
OBAMA How did you do it?
BARTLET Well, I say I’m sorry a lot.
OBAMA I don’t mean your marriage, sir. I mean how did you get America on your side?
BARTLET There again, I didn’t have to be president of America, I just had to be president of the people who watched “The West Wing.”
OBAMA That would make it easier.
BARTLET You’d do very well on NBC. Thursday nights in the old “ER” time slot with “30 Rock” as your lead-in, you’d get seven, seven-five in the demo with a 20, 22 share — you’d be selling $450,000 minutes.
OBAMA What the hell does that mean?
BARTLET TV talk. I thought you’d be interested.
OBAMA I’m not. They pivoted off the argument that I was inexperienced to the criticism that I’m — wait for it — the Messiah, who, by the way, was a community organizer. When I speak I try to lead with inspiration and aptitude. How is that a liability?
BARTLET Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.
OBAMA You’re saying race doesn’t have anything to do with it?
BARTLET I wouldn’t go that far. Brains made me look arrogant but they make you look uppity. Plus, if you had a black daughter —
OBAMA I have two.
BARTLET — who was 17 and pregnant and unmarried and the father was a teenager hoping to launch a rap career with “Thug Life” inked across his chest, you’d come in fifth behind Bob Barr, Ralph Nader and a ficus.
OBAMA You’re not cheering me up.
BARTLET Is that what you came here for?
OBAMA No, but it wouldn’t kill you.
BARTLET Have you tried doing a two-hour special or a really good Christmas show?
OBAMA Sir —
BARTLET Hang on. Home run. Right here. Is there any chance you could get Michelle pregnant before the fall sweeps?
OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?
BARTLET Well … let me think. …We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know … I’m a little angry.
OBAMA What would you do?
BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!
OBAMA Good to get that off your chest?
BARTLET Am I keeping you from something?
OBAMA Well, it’s not as if I didn’t know all of that and it took you like 20 minutes to say.
BARTLET I know, I have a problem, but admitting it is the first step.
OBAMA What’s the second step?
BARTLET I don’t care.
OBAMA So what about hope? Chuck it for outrage and put-downs?
BARTLET No. You’re elite, you can do both. Four weeks ago you had the best week of your campaign, followed — granted, inexplicably — by the worst week of your campaign. And you’re still in a statistical dead heat. You’re a 47-year-old black man with a foreign-sounding name who went to Harvard and thinks devotion to your country and lapel pins aren’t the same thing and you’re in a statistical tie with a war hero and a Cinemax heroine. To these aged eyes, Senator, that’s what progress looks like. You guys got four debates. Get out of my house and go back to work.
OBAMA Wait, what is it you always used to say? When you hit a bump on the show and your people were down and frustrated? You’d give them a pep talk and then you’d always end it with something. What was it …?
BARTLET “Break’s over.”
Last night I watched the first thirty minutes of the ‘presidential debate’ (I put both words in quotes because, oh god, they are both so bloody useless at being proto-presidential and debating) and couldn’t stand it. So I’ve retreated once again to la-la-la world and think I’ll stay here until the election’s over. Then I’ll move to Canada.
21 thoughts on “Barack and Jed chat”
Yes, please, move to Canada! Vancouver is just a 3 hour drive from Seattle. Same soggy weather, same forests and bodies of water all around. Same-sex marriage isn’t being threatened every two weeks by some new amendment or lobby group. There’s lots of yummy places for pizza, burgers, falafel and sushi. Good concerts (if it’s good enough for Nina Hagen to play here, it’s good enough for everyone else). There’s pubs with beer and little shops with bubble tea. There’s geese and moose and bears and cougars. There’s people from all over the world. There’s William Gibson. And there’s me. I’ll even help you look for a house. I did work in the Real Estate industry for two years… Not exactly something I’d brag about, but useful every now and then.
And we’re loyal to your Motherland’s Queen… though I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. I’m sure I can convince a few people to also be loyal to Queen Kelley.
Too bad Bartlet is not a real guy we could voter for. I can’t even be bothered to waste a second of my time watching that bs. I can’t imagine learning anything useful from watching it; it would just be depressing.>>Karina, aren’t you freezing your butt off up there after living in Mexico? Tell the truth.
voter for. I could be Palin’s running mate with those skills.
*looks around* Me? Freezing? Nah.>>Maybe in winter, yes. Not right now. Right now I’m fine. Ask me again in December. By February I’ll probably be begging you to get me out of here. But I’m a drama queen. >>The hardest thing about moving up North after having grown up so close to the Equator is the lack of light. In Mexico, the sun comes out at the same time (give or take one hour max) every single day of the year, and it goes down the same. We have our full 12 hours of sunlight. Year round. >>When it rains in Guadalajara, it pours. It’s an electric storm with strong winds that knock down the stoplights and the whole city floods for two hours. Then it all goes back to normal. We get 10 hours of sunlight after 2 hours of deluge. You don’t even consider the weather to plan your day or your vacations. You don’t talk about the weather much in Mexico.>>Touché, Jennifer. Point granted. *wink* You are right, this wimpy all-day-all-night-all-week drizzle can get to a Mexican after four years. And slushy snow sucks. Dry snow is fine. Not slush. Vancouver has slush.>>But I seem to recall that Nicola likes exactly this kind of weather. She’d probably be miserable in Mexico:>>“I’m English, I like countryside, not wilderness. The Badlands and mesas and desert canyons of North America are, to me, just bare rock: ugly and inimical. Real nature is wood and stream, fenland and shoreline, moor and dell. I like silence, broken by natural sounds: water, birds. Not dogs, can’t stand the sound of dogs barking. I like temperate climate, somewhere between 45 and 75.”>>Vancouver=Perfect>>Maybe that’s why the province is called British Columbia and it’s well populated by British and Irish and Hobbits and the like.
You’re probably right about her hating Mexico – the heat and the desert parts anyway. I tend to agree with her about that barren stuff.>>I looked up Vancouver; at least it is the warmest large city in Canada. Of course that’s not saying much…>>Average high: 57F>Average low: 44 (warmer than I thought)>Mean temp: 50>Average percipitation: 47>>Seattle>Average high: 62>Average low: 45>Mean temp: 52.8>Average percipitation: 37.1 (10in less!)>>Since people I know in Portland keep telling me it rains less there than in Seattle, I looked it up too. Wrong.>>Portland, OR>Average high: 62.2>Average low: 44.8>Mean temp: 53.6>Average percipitation: 40.5>>>And for LA. These averages seem deceptive. The rain is nothing comparison.>>Los Angeles, CA>Average high: 69>Average low: 49>Mean temp: 66>Average percipitation: 1.91
Please note the SNOWFALL info. :)>>>WEATHER IN MY WORLD: typically has about a 50% chance of sunshine during the winter months and more than a 70% chance during the summer months. >>Skies are clear to partly cloudy more than 60% of the time and cloudy less than 40% of the time. >>Average temperatures range from the 50’s in January to the mid to high 90’s in July and August. While the summer is hot, with daily temperatures above 90 degrees over 80% of the time, extremely high temperatures (100 degrees and over) are rare.(NOT!) >>Mild weather prevails during the winter months, with temperatures below freezing occurring on an average of about 20 days per year. >>Relative humidity is above 80% during the early morning hours most of the year, dropping to near 50% in the late afternoon. >>The normal annual rainfall is about 28 inches, with the heaviest amounts occurring during May and September.>>Measurable snow falls only once every three or four years. >>>(When I moved from Kansas to my current home my brother was unoading all my boxes and noted the one marked WINTER CLOTHES. He asked just what I thought I would be doing with those? I miss my winter jackets and duck boots!)
This are the figures for my hometown, Guadalajara:>>Average High: 95.9 °F >Average Low: 41.9 °F >Mean Temp: 70.7 °F>Dew Point: 67.5 °F >Humidity: 52.1%>Wind Speed: 16.0mph>Wind Gust: 40.0mph>Pressure: 25.26in>Precipitation: 31.86in
Linda, move to Canada! You can use your winter jackets and duck boots over here.
But Linda, do you *like* living in south Texas – with those, …uh Texans? And in that humidity?>>Avg. snowfall in Vancouver: 19in – not so much really.
Really, it should say AVERAGE SLUSH.>>Jennifer, Linda, do you have any pictures of yourselves I can look at? I’d like to put faces to these conversations. :-)
This is the view from my window on a < HREF="http://flickr.com/photos/simulakra/222576915/" REL="nofollow">clear day in Vancouver<>. This is when it’s < HREF="http://flickr.com/photos/simulakra/114266919/" REL="nofollow">partly cloudy<> (the stadium you see in the previous pic is to the left of the silver ball that is Science World). When Vancouver is overcast, it’s just not worth taking pictures.
Oh, <>Nicola<>… I meant to say that I also tried to watch the “debate” and I got depressed. So this talk about the weather and moving every nice person in the world to Canada is my way of rooting for Lalaland.
Blimey, a person goes away for an afternoon and, whap, the inbox is full. I’ve been to Vancouver a couple of times (the last time I had an extremely strange massage experience–but that deserves a whole blog post).>>And, yep, the weather is always a fine thing to help us to lalaland. Especially as the forecast for my birthday is shaping up to be stupendously awesome here in Seattle: sunny and 72. Woo-hoo!
Strange massage experience? Did you end up at Madame Cleo’s Massage Parlour? I knew a girl who worked there. She had really interesting stories. Oh, do write that post.
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Well, yes, it’s a good thing Bartlet is/was a fictional President. (Full disclosure: I have never watched The West Wing.) For example, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were originally < HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fannie_mae" REL="nofollow">government programs<>, funded by and answerable to the taxpayers. (They were privatized in 1968.)>>“Elite is a good word, it means well above average.” Actually, no it doesn’t: it means < HREF="http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elite" REL="nofollow">the choice part.”<> Chosen by whom? A good question, don’t you think? I have nothing against excellence, but I also note that polls consistently show that 75 to 80 percent of Americans think of themselves as “above average.” And I also note that most people who claim to favor elitism, and to imagine themselves part of the elite themselves, tend to be inferior. There’s a blog post I need to write, I think…
I think it is interesting that we talked of the weather and rather went to lala land in our minds. >>Nicola, when the cat’s away…>>Photo. I have been considering it.>>My 82 year old mother is nearby. I am the oldest of my tribe of 4and therefore the”responsible” one. My two daughters are nearby AND I will need my retirement benefits. Sooo moving is not an option at the moment. I can sit out on my patio for an evening meal and listen to the birds almost at anytime of the year so it is a fair trade for duck boots.
karina, madame cleo’s? No. Much more respectable than that, sadly.>>promiscuous, yep, I spend my days desperately keeping my mouth shut when deeply average people talk as if they’re something special. Most of us are pretty average in many ways, worse than average in others, marginally better in still others. Nothing wrong with that. So why can’t we acknowledge. Why does everyone have to feel so fucking *special* all the time?>>linda, yep, I think photos would be cool–but of course it’s entirely optional. As for moving, it sounds as though you don’t need to.
I stopped in Vancouver once and spent a few days in Victoria. It was the tail end of a trip driving in an RV. We went from LA to Banff across to the west coast. Canada is beautiful. I also enjoy cooking in the heat in Mexico sometimes. But although I’m not a fan of moderation in all things, I suppose I am with the weather. What I would really like is to have 3 or 4 places to live to jump around to…>>Yes, Linda, it sounds like you are good where you are.>>I on the other hand, am about ready to get out of Dodge.>>And hey – I am fucking special. :)
I hate seeing myself in pictures. The mirror is bad enough. But just for you Karina, here’s < HREF="http://jenniferdurham.com/uploads/JD_elf_07.png" REL="nofollow">a pic of me<> from last December. Dancing.
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