My favorite character from one of my top-five TV shows, The West Wing
*, was Josh Lyman, the abrasive Deputy Chief of Staff in Aaron Sorkin's fictional White House **. He had a special gift for getting the dirty work done (with his fine political mind) and for pissing people off (with his cockiness and sarcasm), and his antics are among the best things about the show. The character was based on Bill Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel.
Emanuel has been back in the spotlight for his recent appointment as President-Elect Barack Obama's White House Chief of Staff. With the announce of his second WH tour-of-duty, there have been numerous profiles detailing his colorful personality. A Salon article called Obama's Designated A--hole
painted Emmanuel as a tenacious negotiator with a proclivity for profanity. An older story noted
, "he raised millions of dollars by browbeating donors and candidates with cellphone calls that invariably ended, 'Fuck you
. I love you
Off of that alone, the television character that seems closest to Emanuel's personality wouldn't be Josh Lyman, but Entourage
super-agent Ari Gold. And it's probably not a coincidence because the character was based on real-life Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel--who happens to be Rahm's younger brother! Yep, Obama's new Chif of Staff is Ari's big bro ***.
Speaking of The West Wing
, the final season of the show back in 2005 experienced a revival of sorts with its focus on the elections for the new US president. The fictional campaign featured Democrat Rep. Matt Santos from Texas (Jimmy Smits), who had won a hard-earned primary against the establihment candidate (the incumbent VP), opposite Republican Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda), a moderate Senator from the west who has had a record of going against his party. Santos, the charismatic minority newcomer who ran on a message of hope, ended up winning the election.
While molding the character, the show's writers looked for a model on whom to base the character. They found a young, promising politician whose star was beginning to rise on the national scene and crafted their imaginary presidential candidate after the politician.
The politician? Barack Obama
Funny how life ended up imitating art that imitated life
* - My list, in no particular order: The West Wing
, Veronica Mars
, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
(the post-Angel years), Friends
, The Office
(I'm cheating and putting both the British and the American versions, though Tim will always be the man
** - Bradley Whitford was so good in the role that Sorkin wrote the part of Danny Tripp for Whitford in his next project, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
*** - Their eldest brother, Zeke, is one of the foremost experts in healthcare policy. Wonkette had a funny quiz about the brothers
. Can you imagine how Thanksgiving Dinner at their table must be like like?
**** - Matt Santos' White House Chief of Staff? Josh Lyman.
Labels: barack obama, politics, rahm emmanuel, television, us elections, west wing