It was another banner week on The West Wing, with personnel changes continuing to overshadow policy. Does anyone care about further evidence that Russia infiltrated U.S. elections? No? How about some more palace intrigue, then? In this episode, we added White House staff secretary Rob Porter to the ever-growing list of characters who’ve run for the hills. And despite Trump’s well wishes, it seems unlikely Porter is going to end up as a candidate for Congress like Sam Seaborn. Then again, never say never in the Trump era. Here’s what happened this week.
The Military Parade
Trump wants the Pentagon to plan a military parade, similar to a Bastille Day parade he saw in France last season, in order to showcase the United States’ military might. Members of the military treated it as another kooky idea from the man who thinks he invented the phrase “priming the pump.” But for now, it appears they’re going through the motions of planning, at least until someone can talk Trump out of it. Hard to imagine anyone in the Bartlet administration being a fan of this idea. President Bartlet himself would more likely order a parade of economists to march down Pennsylvania Avenue, explaining trade policies to passersby. Admiral Fitzwallace, as loyal a military man as they come, would have thought it foolish and pointless. Not to mention that a parade seems like an overwhelming and expensive undertaking for the directors, even ones adept at the walk-and-talk, so it seems unlikely that this episode will come to pass.
The Abusive Husband
Rob Porter resigned as the president’s staff secretary after both of his ex-wives came forward with accusations of domestic abuse. Chief of staff John Kelly apparently knew about the accusations months earlier and defended Porter’s “integrity and honor” to the press only days earlier. And on top of all that, Porter has been dating communications director Hope Hicks, who Trump now blames for the brouhaha. Though it’s been clear from the beginning of the season that this White House is no friend to women — after all, more than a dozen women have accused Trump of sexual assault and harassment — this isn’t even Scandal-level writing, this is Days of Our Lives writing. Will the writers include a dramatic scene of Hicks telling off Porter and Kelly? Will Kelly do more reminiscing about the days when “women were sacred and looked upon with great honor”? Where is self-avowed feminist Ivanka in all this? The writers opened up these Pandora’s boxes, and now the women viewers of America demand to see what comes out.
The Return of Omarosa
Viewers got an unexpected treat when Omarosa briefly reappeared from whatever rock she was hiding under to do a crossover West Wing/Celebrity Big Brother episode. It was almost as exciting as when Sesame Street came to the White House in season five. On the set of Celebrity Big Brother, Omarosa tearfully admitted that the country under Trump “is going to not be OK.” She revealed that she was haunted by Trump’s tweets, and concerned for the country under his leadership. Politico called it “possibly the quickest-ever move from The West Wing to reality television.” And we thought that Nala from The Lion King joining the show to play Mandy was the most interesting career transition.
Will Trump drive a golf cart or a tank in the military parade? Will Rob Porter’s sudden name recognition ruin Ohio senator Rob Portman’s chance to run for president? And aren’t there any more former Apprentice contestants who’d be willing to work at the White House? The ranks keep thinning. Tune in next week to find out.