If Rahm quits, what will become of the 'West Wing' White House?
By Alexandra Petri
Has the Obama administration jumped the shark?
For years, it has earned the trust and forbearance of the coveted 18-24 demographic through a very simple deal. We knew our part of the bargain -- we’d watch Oval Office speeches, chuckle at the White House correspondents' dinner roasts, listen politely to discussions of health-care reform -- and Obama's staffers knew theirs: pretend to be the live-action Josiah Bartlet administration, as portrayed from 1999 to 2006 on "The West Wing."
Now it seems as though they are forgetting their side of the deal. When we agreed to let the occasional gaffe slide -- such as their mysterious inability to resolve the Middle East situation in a single episode -- they knew what we required in return. A short, cantankerous chief of staff with a colorful personal background. A former professor president with a flair for giving speeches. The occasional crisis, resolved efficiently within the course of a season, before the public tired.
Now look at this mess.
Oil continues to spill into the gulf, generating huge volumes of oil-related coverage and reproachful-looking pelicans, the dramatic underwater-claw solution failed, and President Obama is wandering around looking for an "ass to kick" between bouts of golf. This is not what President Bartlet would have done. He would have spoken reasonably to the oil and persuaded it to go back into the earth, leaving only an apologetic note and some blueprints for efficient windmills. Thus curing the energy crisis, he would have walked back to shore on the water while trumpets blared. This is what we have come to expect, and the Obama administration is not delivering.
And now there’s a rumor that Rahm is leaving? This is nearly as depressing as the season-four finale!
Where are we going to find another chief of staff who inspires his own breed of fangirls? When Andy Card was in office, no one felt the slightest desire to compile an anthology of photos in which he appeared to gaze longingly at the president, or coin Chuck-Norris-esque phrases such as “Rahm Emanuel doesn’t sleep. He waits.” Now, the word is that he is retiring -- a word seldom associated with Emanuel. What if he’s replaced by a boring policy wonk who quotes OMB reports at cocktail parties and still has all his fingers? This is unacceptable.
So is Rahm really leaving, or is this just sweeps week? It’s time for this administration to get back to acting like "The West Wing" and stop this nonsense. Let a few weeks pass as Rahm weighs the pros and cons of leaving, culminating in a quiet confrontation in the Oval Office in which the president says something wise that is also a parable, while stirring music plays in the background. “Thank you, Mr. President,” Rahm will say, tears glittering in his eyes, before he returns to his post and the credits roll.
And while we’re at it, we should do something about this oil spill.
| June 21, 2010; 12:04 PM ET
Categories: Petri | Tags: Alexandra Petri
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