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A Little Ethics Before “West Wing” Ends

posted by doug howe

“The West Wing’s” great run is on its last leg, but producers are making a run to the finish, which will include special guest appearances (Jon Bon Jovi’s on next week) and cameos from the show’s former stars. I was also glad to see—at least for one final time—”West Wing” return to its roots of leveraging its political plotline to engage in the kind of moral and ethical dilemmas that should always matter for a spiritual seeker. When Ron Silver’s character Bruno (who advises Alan Alda’s Arnie Vinick in his presidential campaign against Jimmy Smits’s Matt Santos) finds Santos’s briefcase with damaging information inside, he confronts Vinick with the opportunity to take Santos down with the information inside.

“It will make you President,” he says.

Vinick’s absolute resolve to “give it back immediately” turns into “I don’t wanna know anything about it” to “let’s sleep on it” to “keep it,” as he becomes aware of the secret hidden inside. This, I believe, is the kind of moment that defines the true spirituality of any person: Can we do the right thing, even when it may keep us from achieving an ambition or living a dream? Vinick eventually chooses to give the briefcase back, but there’s still room for the secret to get out.

I’m curious to see what they do with this one, and will tune in for the kind of typically bold writing that often marks a show’s final weeks. And even if it’s lame, I’ll at least get a Bon Jovi song, some reunion cameos, and the memory of a show which often moved past politics to ask the significant questions of life.



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