June 22, 2004

Presidents real and imagined

Giving in to gross fantasy is something I have long been unable to resist. Tonight is no different, but it struck me that the fantasy was not so much a happy one as a 'less sad' one. Watching The West Wing, I witnessed the composite personality known as Jed Bartlet (a creation of writers, directors, actors and others) suffer the loss of a secret team of U.S. Army commandos on a rescue attempt inside Colombia. While the moral problem that the fictional Commander-in-Chief struggles with is the main focus of the episode - that of the choice between military action with uncertain results and negotiating with criminals - I found my attention caught by the final images of the show.

In that sequence, President Bartlet is shown waiting at four in the morning, in the rain, at Dover AFB for the bodies of the slain commandos to arrive home. As each coffin is carried off the Coast Guard C-130, dress-uniformed soldiers carry it away from the airplane and pause directly in front of the President before slowly turning and carrying it off.

The rub is this: I cannot, for the life of me, put George W. Bush's face on that fictional president, in that scene. I cannot see that man standing in the rain at night in secret, where no camera will ever see, greeting each of those silent accusations for no other reason than a sense of duty. Every time I try it, I see his attention wander; his feet shuffle, his gaze travel away - the perfect image of a bored ten-year-old who doesn't understand why he's been brought somewhere and why he's supposed to remain solemn.

I recognize this is fantasy. I recognize it is built solely on my image of my President, as wrong and incomplete as that image most likely is. But that's how it is. Posted by jbz at June 22, 2004 1:44 AM | TrackBack

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