On a whim, last weekend I put on the second to last season of The West Wing, which as the wing nuts among you will know was the season about the Republican and Democratic primaries. I had forgotten how good that actual season is, primarily because it introduced the character of GOP senator Arnie Vinick, played by Alan Alda. The character of Vinick, as a moderate, thoughtful conservative was by far one of the most interesting characters to have appeared in the entire series, and to me it was always a pity that the series never got another season where he would have played a major role in the new administration.
What was really interesting about Vinick was that he was not a RINO, that is, a Democrat who just happened to wear a GOP label which is the norm in Hollywood political drama. In the debate against Matt Santos, the two have a genuine ideological difference, but it is fought out with civility and respect, a sad juxtaposition compared to the reality of US politics.
Finally, though, a comment about the show itself. Denmark, a country of similar size to Ireland, is about to broadcast its third and final season of political drama “Borgen”. Why is it that we can’t do political television drama here? I suspect that one reason, aside from cost, is that a show that was realistic about Irish politics would involve most of the characters sitting around trying to avoid making decisions whilst demanding other people take “tough” decisions. I’m not sure if even a politics junkie like me would watch that.