The West Wing: Dead Irish Poets


I have written about my binge-watching the first three seasons of The West Wing in the past week or so. I have about four episodes left, and I think I may go ahead and buy the 4th season.

Anyway, last night I reached the episode called Dead Irish Poets, which general motif was Abbey’s birthday party. It had a lot of stuff in it that we should all remember from time to time, but one thing especially stood out for me in this particular episode.

It’s original airdate was March 6, 2002. Season three’s first episode was Isaac and Ishmael, which was a special episode to make a statement of the 9/11/01 attack on the Twin Towers. During those days of chaos after it happened, there was much confusion and chaos among the American people, and a White House that did not do much of anything but debate about going to war. Lots of people were opining on what actually happened on that day. That is not an argument I will get into here, because that is not why I’m here.

Among the things that should have been talked about more at the time was exactly how much Canada did for us in those days that followed. The airplane landings, the hospitality of the Canadians, the out-of-the-way actions many took just to help citizens of the US get back to their own countries. The Canadians really put themselves forward, and NO-BODY EVER OFFICIALLY THANKED THEM. GWB pretty much ignored them because he never said thank you out of the White House.

And that is where Dead Irish Poets came in. Aaron Sorkin, Tommy Schlamme, and John Wells, and I am certain pretty much all the actors in that series, came in to say thank you in the best way possible. I you have any memory of that episode at all, you will remember that one of the subplots was that Donna Moss was discovered to have been born in Canada because of a misunderstanding of whether the town she was born in in Minnesota was actually within the US or Canada when she was born. Another subplot was what Abbey was going to do about her doctor’s license.

So they wrote a scene that combined those two things in a way; a hen party among Abbey, CJ, Amy, and Donna. Donna spoke up about how the First Lady had taken it upon herself and Jed about her giving him his MS meds. It stunned everyone that she had taken the initiative.

But in the last section of the episode, just before Abbey voluntarily gave up her medical license for the duration of her time in the White House as First Lady, she did something to show she very much appreciated what Donna had said to her, and had the orchestra providing the music for her birthday party, play “Oh Canada”, the Canadian National Anthem, and had two soldiers walking two Canadian flags back and forth across the front of the guests. And the guests sand the anthem.

This was our country’s sCandalute and thank you to Canada for their aid to our citizens, and to those on the airplanes that could not land in the United States in the days following the attacks. And it took and very intelligent television series to make the move. I love The West Wing, at least the first three seasons, for many reasons, and this one seems to be one of the best reasons (In Excelsis Deo was the other).

Canada has a great many fans now because of Justin Trudeau, and I am among them. But their actions after the Iran shambles back in 1978, and then in September of 2001, should have just as much recognition, and appreciation. I wish I lived in Canada, but perhaps I am better off in my country of birth to keep these things in memory, and besides I need to stay where my medical problems are well taken care of.

Carol Stepp
Austin, TX

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About carolstepp

Music is about the most important thing in my life, and I follow a large number of musicians, particularly Irish, Scots, Classical, Crossovers of any of these. I was writing a blog about Celtic Thunder regularly on MySpace, and now I have left them after a year, and will start writing my blogs here. I am 70, retired, living on Social Security, and have a lot of social network fans.
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