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So, in real life, Washington was beginning to disintegrate into the Harry Reid-driven, scorched-earth battle zone that it has become today.

On “The West Wing”, however, President Bartlett and his staff were still trying to do the right thing every week.

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The disconnect appears to be that the “West Wing” version of Washington is what the mere public would like—not today’s Harry Hitler show.

Three years into the series, they did an inspired bit of television, where they brought Presidents Carter, Ford, and Clinton into the studio–along with many of their advisors and a little bit of Rove–and they talked about life in the West Wing while they showed scenes from previous episodes.

Clinton made the point that if you asked any of his former team how they were doing out of office, all of them would answer three things.

  1. They were glad to have some time for their families.
  2. They were making more money.
  3. They sure missed the work.

Ford and Carter said as much in different ways.

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I’m not sure if it is the President, Congressional leaders, or the voters who have allowed the current toxic atmosphere to pervade Washington; but, whoever it is, it is ultimately the voters who will have the final say.

Those political consultants who run races ought to consider that a big network television show managed to survive some of the most difficult times this nation has ever seen by showing a Government that was much better on TV than the real thing is today. Is there a message for 2016’s candidates there?

Photo credit: François Pichard (Flickr)

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

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