Kellymundo succeeded in getting me to watch a few consecutive episodes of The West Wing on DVD the other day, and as someone who's been steeped in politics over the past five years, it leaves an interesting impression. If 24 is the Dark Side of the contemporary political debate, The West Wing represents something of the sunny side.
The stuff I've seen is from Season two, which is something of a historical time-capsule, having been made prior to both the onset of the Bush Administration, and of course 9/11. It's totally enjoyable, but also strikes me as anachronistically sanguine, a grown-up Schoolhouse Rock but with the benefit of excellent production values. The cast is strong, and the writing is excellent from a literary standpoint. On substance, though, I think the text reflects all too well the hazy miasma that surrounds our allegedly elite political discourse.
Two quick examples from the three or four episodes I've seen:
I've been bored with politics and focusing on other things lately. The primaries are a drone for the most part. This, however, deserves attention.
House Democrats stood strong against immunity for Telecom companies that were helping with illegal wiretaps, and established meaningful oversight for domestic survalence going forward. Glenn Greewald explains:
bq. As impressive as the House vote itself was, more impressive still was the floor debate which preceded it. I can't recall ever watching a debate on the floor of either House of Congress that I found even remotely impressive -- until today. One Democrat after the next -- of all stripes -- delivered impassioned, defiant speeches in defense of the rule of law, oversight on presidential eavesdropping, and safeguards on government spying. They swatted away the GOP's fear-mongering claims with the dismissive contempt such tactics deserve, rejecting the principle that has predominated political debate in this country since 9/11: that the threat of the Terrorists means we must live under the rule of an omnipotent President and a dismantled constitutional framework.
This is a win for justice, but it's all the more exciting in that it happened because Democrats (including a number of newbies) broke through the miazma of "war on terra" fear. Nice work. Feels good, don't it? Winning is fun! Slapping down a shitty president with bad ideas is cool! Let's do more like this!
My man Mike "Smiley" Connery wrote a book! It's pretty exciting. He'll be going on tour and doing the whole deal. It's a natural continuation of the work we started at Music For America, and I'm looking forward to reading the final copy.
I've been skeptical and critical of the Obama campaign, but I must admit I'm pleased to see the movement they've germinated really taking root and driving them ahead. With another three primary wins under their belt tonight, and the upcoming state of Wisconsin -- once though to be a "showdown" -- now trending towards another decisive victory:
Clinton's campaign is going to be up against a March 4th last-stand having won nothing in a month. Ohio and Texas are still favorable, but will they really buck the big O'mo for three more weeks?
And this is undeniably cool:
410,000 individual donors. A lot of those are $5 from people at a rally or online, but the breadth of the buy-in is pretty spectacular. This is what political junkies have talked about for a long time. The fact that they candidate to pull it off is an political cypher beloved by a decrepit establishment is a little bit of a surprise, but it does seem that Obama and his team have manages to pull off the big task: building a grassroots movement while simultaniously charming the pants off the national media.
And, in case you haven't seen it, the original, which is a pretty amazing little bit of campaign juice:
Things look good for Obama. He swept the weekend primaries, and looks set to sweep Maryland, DC and Virginia. This should build momentum. The big showdowns will be in Wisconsin (February 19), and Texas and Ohio on March 4th. If Obama rolls through there, he will clinch it.
An Obama/McCain showdown would be pretty exciting. Literally the future vs the past. That's a hot matchup, and one that massively favors Democrats as far as I can tell.
It's almost enough to make me want to give money and/or reach out to people in Ohio or Texas.
Super tuesday! Obama has a narrow lead in delegates. Neither he or Clinton are likely to "win" based on primaries. Basically, if Clinton can keep a virtual tie, she can probably choke him out at the convention w/superdelegates and committee maneuvers. However, if Obama can open up enough of a lead to make that choke-out sufficiently unDemocratic, he could keep the nomination.
On that note, I'm working on my first real decent think-piece on politics in ages. I'll post it on one of those kinds of websites and throw a link up here soon. UPDATE: here.
Cornell Club: I'm more or less moved-in to the East Bay bachelor pad. It's pretty cool, actually. We have a nice dining room with an impressive scotch bar, are proximal to both the BART and a couple good night spots, and with a little more set-up should be ready for some kickass housewarming activities soon.
On the downside, after two separate trips to Ikea, I still don't have all the parts to build a bed. Screw you, Swedes!
It's been productive to be back in the office, and we've got pieces of paper up all over the place with bullet lists and schedules. Feels good!
All in all it's been busy but in a refreshing way. I've been getting up early and coming home late, which if not exactly how I want to spend my time in a perfect world, is decidedly a change in my habits of action, and is as such refreshing.