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banking on the future

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Earlier this evening I composed a strongly-worded yet businesslike letter to my credit card bank, about the anomalous transactions on my account. They seem to have reacted selectively to my phone call two weeks ago: they quickly changed the account number and issued me a new card, yet the forms they promised have not arrived. The transactions are still on my account, and I’m paying interest and insurance on them. OK, it’s time to go on the offensive. The letter will be printed out and sent in the morning, and I’m lining up my guns in case they are uncooperative.

I’m something of a fan of The West Wing, so much so that it’s noticeable to others and I’ve even been asked to record episodes. The quality of the drama writing is up there with the best I’ve ever seen in film or TV, and I would think so even if it hadn’t dominated the Emmys since its inception. I’ve just finished watching the last episode in the latest series – only four weeks behind the USA, since this is a flagship series for RTÉ.

To describe it as a double-edged cliff-hanger would hardly do it justice. Not only has the President’s daughter been kidnapped, but he then invokes the 25th Amendment, temporarily handing over power to the Speaker of the House – since the Vice-President had just resigned and had not been replaced. The latter may not sound bad, but the Speaker is the political enemy of the President and his staff, and is played by John Goodman, who hits the White House like a wrecking ball and has the other staff shrinking in their shoes within minutes of coming through the door. Cliff-hanger might not be the right term, the final scenes may better be described as Holy Crap moments.

The text of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, from 1967, covers what is to be done in the event the President is unable to discharge his or her duties. If we look up the text, we get an idea of what might happen next. Once this current crisis is resolved, he will declare that he is fit to resume office. The problem is that the language is vague and open to interpretation, political or dramatic.

It’s conceivable that the Speaker might try to lock the President out of office, if he can get Congress to declare the President unfit – which is a possibility, since a) this fictional President suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and b) the opposition are the majority in Congress.

As an aside, the presence of Goodman gives some idea of the future of The West Wing – Goodman may be best known for comedy roles such as The Flintstones or Blues Brothers 2000, but no-one’s laughing now. He’d simply be too big (literally and dramatically) for the Oval Office on a full time basis, I think, so The West Wing may not carry on after the current administration departs.

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Written by brian t

June 14, 2003 at 11:40 pm

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