Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Leo McGarry

I wrote over the past summer...

Think when any of us become a fan of a TV show, sports team, band, whatever, you feel a bond and connection with the people involved. Most of the time you never get a chance to meet or know them as people but you care about them.

Four years ago today John Spencer passed away. Spencer played White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry in President Josiah Bartlett's White House on the TV show The West Wing.

This blog was named after an episode of The West Wing and many of the posts on this blog reference one of TV's greatest show. John Spencer's portrayal of Leo McGarry was a character to whom I related and tried to emulate when I worked on campaigns.

Some people ask me,, 'who was your favorite character on the show?' I always answer it like a parent talks about their kids. "I really love them all, and they could all be my favorite at any time."

The real answer above is true. I loved them all, but it was Leo who was consistently my favorite. He was the guy I wanted to be when I was tossing my lot into the political world. More pragmatist than idealogue, more team builder, than team agitator.

I'll never forget when I interviewed for a job with John Hancock after college to be a financial analyst. I was asked one of those ridiculous questions you get asked in interviews,,, "What is your dream job?"

My answer at the time was "White House Chief of Staff."

The main reason I even knew what this job was,,, was due to The West Wing and how I viewed Leo McGarry.

As those who watch the show are aware, Spencer passed away in the middle of the last season of The West Wing while his character was the Democratic Nominee for Vice President. The story is that if Spencer would have lived, that the Republican nominee Arnold Vinnick (played by Alan Alda) would have won the election.

But after Spencer's death the writers decided to write McGarry's death into the storyline and the Democrat Nominee Matt Santos (played by Jimmy Smits) ended up as the winner of the election.

Considering that I almost named this blog leomcgarry.blogspot.com, I feel that the 16th of December 16 will always be an appropriate day to pass along some of the wisdom of Leo .

While the YouTube video below is not of the best quality it is a great collection of clips and always love watching the reaction of fellow cast members (Bradley Whitford in particular) when he won his Emmy for one of the great episodes in West Wing history "Bartlet for America". Links to other Spencer tributes are listed below.

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