Is it just me, or has the real world of politics been closely following the fictional world of The West Wing?
In 2005, the show took an eerily prescient turn with a presidential campaign between a young, liberal, hotshot minority (Jimmy Smits as Rep. Matt Santos) and an aging, maverick senator who finds himself at odds with the far-right elements of his party (Alan Alda as Sen. Arnold Vinick).
During the campaign, Santos must fight against a more experienced and notable candidate (Hillary Clinton, anyone?), Vinick fights a right-wing religious candidate… Mike Huckabee?
Vinick’s running mate is a small red state governor and a sop to the conservative right base; Santos’ is a seasoned elder statesman respected in the party.
Oh, and Santos won.
It’s almost as if the writers on The West Wing had a time machine.
And now today, with the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, I’m reminded of a first-season episode in November 1999, predicting ten years in advance the nomination of the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice – in the fictional world it was Roberto Mendoza (Edward James Olmos). Again, the prescience is scary: Mendoza grew up in the projects, worked in law enforcement, and defied the odds of his childhood to become a respected jurist.
Maybe I need to go back and rewatch this series to see what’s gonna happen next.