The West Wing Revisited: Celestial Navigation

Today’s episode contains more behind-the-scenes than usual. That’s because in this episode Josh Lyman speaks at a university, describing his job, anything he shared there I considered fair game.

Our story begins with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development calling a Republican congressman a racist.

The President signs a major education bill, and then while taking questions from the press, says that he will ask the Secretary to apologize. Concurrent to this, C.J. Cregg goes to the dentist and has emergency root canal surgery and thus can’t do the afternoon briefing.

Josh Lyman volunteers to do the briefing, whereupon he completely implodes. He insults the White House Press Corp, gives nonsensical answers on the economy, and generally comes across as an idiot, culminating in stating that the President has a “secret plan to fight inflation”.

To top of the White House’s day, Robert Mendoza, their nominee for Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court, says that the President was wrong to ask the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to apologize. We also learn that Mendoza has been busy, in the past eight weeks he’s criticized the American Bar Association, the AFL-CIO, and the New York State legislature.

Of all these plots, I find “Josh Lyman, Press Secretary” to be most difficult to swallow. It seems incredible to me that the White House would let a random staffer, and not, for example, the Deputy Press Secretary, do the briefing. Further, despite how colossally Josh screwed up, it’s hard for me to see it as anything other than really good material for Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, there’s simply no way to believe it’s real policy material.