Thanksgiving is Thursday. In the States, millions of Americans will be gathered around the dinner table with family and friends to stuff their faces, make memories, and remember in that even in these most rancorous times there is so much to be thankful for. I’m breaking my rule regarding only choosing one scene per season of a TV show as the “Two Cathedrals Rant” from the season finale of The West Wing’s second season was one of the first My Favorite Scene columns I wrote (click here for that). It’s a rule worth breaking, because episode eight “Shibboleth” is one of the best of the series and my favorite episode of any drama having to do with Thanksgiving. There’s actually a lot to choose from in this funny and heart-warming episode. I very nearly went with the White House Press Secretary’s drama over choosing the turkey that receives a Presidential Pardon every year. But in the end I settled for the President of the United States discovering the existence of the Butterball Turkey hotline and the comedy that ensues.
Aaron Sorkin is my favorite writer in any medium and after the recent election penned an open letter to his daughter on how sorry he was that the country had failed her. This broke my heart because The West Wing is an unabashed work of love. Love of the Office of the President of the United States, love of the men and women who devote their lives to civil service, love of America. To see him brought so low after creating something so patriotic broke my heart. I honestly think the country would be better off if Martin Sheen agreed to just act like President Jed Bartlett for four years and we can have another go at it then. Maybe if we were reminded of all the reasons America was and could be again the greatest nation on Earth. Maybe if we heard words of inspiration, saw acts of cooperation, celebrated our strengths instead of decrying crises we all know; maybe then we wouldn’t scare so easily, and fear is really our problem. We’ve all been afraid so long, and you can’t stay in that place without cracks appearing. So my Thanksgiving wish to you, Time Killers, is take a little of the spirit of The West Wing with you back out into the world. Remember something we have to be thankful for, and know that I (pause for a sappy moment), am thankful for all the cool people who make writing this a delight and not a chore. Happy Thanksgiving, all.