Now that we’re in the final stages of this year’s presidential race, I’m reminded of one of the best television shows ever—West Wing with Martin Sheen as President Jed Bartlet.
I remember admiring Sheen, or at least the fictional character he portrayed. I don’t know enough about Sheen the man, especially with that odd duck son of his, Charlie, to admire him. I even went so far as a letter to the editor of one of the local newspapers:
Isn’t it a shame we can’t find someone to run our nation as qualified as the fictional president portrayed by Martin Sheen on tv’s West Wing? We have choices today—Bradley or Gore, McCain or Bush. I want Marty Sheen, or at least the man he portrays.
This is a time when we desperately need someone better than the one who presently sits in the highest office, the one whose moral indiscretions we’ve suffered along with for the past eight years. We need someone with ethical standards, kindness, understanding, wisdom, and a steel backbone for standing up to national and world bullies. Our choices are Bradley or Gore, McCain or Bush. I want Marty Sheen, or at least the man he portrays.
There’s nothing wrong with an actor for president. After all, Ronald Regan admirably paved that way. So, how about it, Marty? When your run on West Wing is finished, playing a good guy in a fictional Oval Office, how about trying your hand at playing the number one good guy in the real Oval Office?
I and a whole bunch of others would want Marty Sheen, or at least the man he portrays.
I especially remember the 2000 season finale, "Two Cathedrals." I think it was the best hour of television I’d ever seen. The story line centered on the funeral of President Bartlet’s secretary and the question of whether or not he’d run for reelection. During the funeral he kept having flashbacks to when he was a young student at the school where his father was headmaster and Mrs. Landingham was his secretary. After the funeral Jed asked that they secure the church doors and leave him for a moment. He then chews God out for all the evil He allows, chews Him out in English and Latin, then lights a cigarette and immediately crushes it out on the cathedral floor, an act of defiance against both his father and his Father. The episode ends just as Jed goes to a news conference, supposedly to tell the world he won’t run again. But it becomes apparent when he thrusts his hands into his pockets that he will go against the party preference and will run again. Mrs. Landingham had told him as a boy she always knew when he had his back up and was going to go against authority and do the right thing. He would put his hands in his pockets and grin boyishly. Great episode, great series. Daring idea to question so emphatically God’s plan.
And yes, we could certainly use a man like Jed Bartlet in the White House.