August 7th, 2009
01:32 PM ET

Judge Sotomayor: another "West Wing" prediction?

Where does realism end and prognostication begin?

10 years ago, The West Wing premiered, starring Bradley Whitford as a DC insider based on Rahm Emanuel.  Whitford's character, Josh Lyman, eventually became chief of staff to the first member of a racial minority to become President (Jimmy Smits as Matt Santos), who defeated a veteran, moderate Republican senator from the West (Alan Alda as Arnold Vinick).  True, Santos was a Hispanic Texan, not an African-American from Illinois, but still, not bad - especially since West Wing writer and producer Eli Attie confirms Santos was modeled in part on Barack Obama, back in 2004 before Obama was even a senator.

Now, with the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, we have another real-life parallel.  For his first appointment to the high court, West Wing president Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) decided to nominate the first Hispanic justice: Roberto Mendoza, played by Edward James Olmos.  Again, hardly perfect prognostication - among other things, Mendoza was from Brooklyn, while Sotomayor grew up in the Bronx - but not bad, especially for a show written a decade before Sotomayor's nomination.

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Karen

    I've just finished watching all 7 seasons on DVD and I'm devastated. Nothing will compare to this show. It is brilliant. I'm Australian, and yet still found the show fascinating as did my entire family. Please bring back the West Wing. I beg you!

    October 6, 2009 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. wes

    I knew Leo McGarry, and Rahm Emmanuel, you're no Leo McGarry

    August 9, 2009 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. wes

    I agree that the West Wing and the Sopranos were the absolute best that has ever graced the scene unfortunately, the bozos that are presently running our country couldn't shine the shoes of the acting. Maybe Aaron Sorkin could step in fire the current writers,and change the script quickly

    August 9, 2009 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. darthdog6

    The "West Wing" should be required viewing for anyone who seeks public office. It is a blueprint for how government should, and could, run.

    August 8, 2009 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bookgirl

    There is yet another parallel: at the end of the series the new POTUS selects his former opponent, who has greater foreign policy experience, as his Secretary of State.

    One of the best written shows ever!

    August 8, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sharon corner

    my husband keeps saying "It's not too late to bring that show back!" We have all the seasons on dvd and watch it on bravo. It would've been great to see what they would've done with Jimmy as prez! IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO BRING THE SHOW BACK!!!

    August 7, 2009 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. PHK3

    Jimmy Smits being president was not in the original plan. As true West Wing fans know, it was supposed to be Alan Alda's character. The reason why it was changed was because the actor playing "Leo," John Spencer, died. The producers thought it would be a bad storyline to not only have "Leo" die, but then lose the election. They scrambled at the last moment to change around the series finale. So looking to West Wing for parallels to the Obama administration is a stretch.

    August 7, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Daniel, CNN Entertainment Senior Producer

      I respectfully disagree, PHK3. As a "true West Wing" fan who has had the pleasure of interviewing several cast members, including the deeply missed John Spencer, I'm aware of the original intent. But as you stated, that's not how it wound up on the show. Therefore, "Vinick wins" plays much the same role in the West Wing universe as "Dewey Defeats Truman" does in real life: a neat bit of trivia, nothing more. The similarities between what actually happened on the show and subsequent real-life events remain.

      August 7, 2009 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jason

    West Wing started coming on when I was like in middle school. I'm getting ready to graduate from college in a few months. I really never got into the show but I think its amazing how its still relevant a decade later. I really want to buy the entire series and watch it from beginning to end.

    August 7, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. HBobbie McLeod

    I agree about West Wing – without question,a stunningly realistic demonstration of what the White House should be like and most likely, in many instances, is. And this Life Long Republican jumped over the fence, hook, line and sinker, for Pres Obama – – Every action that is reported about the Pres and his Administration causes me to remember scenes, etc. from the West Wing. The Best Show – I hope history recalls this President at the Best as well. I have surgery in the recent plans and will recuperate with the tapes from West Wing – maybe I can figure out what will happen next. 🙂

    August 7, 2009 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Evan

    Best show ever. Ive watched all the good one over the past 10 years and West Wing stands out over everything. Loved The Sopranos, The Wire, Lost, even Entourage. Ill watch em all. West Wing is still by far the best

    August 7, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jennifer

    Since the start of Obama's run for the Presidency I have thought about the parallels to The West Wing. I have even started to re-watch the entire series on DVD to see what else was predicted well before its time.

    August 7, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jack

    Still today one of the best shows ever! I am a Moderate Republican and this show is the blueprint for how government should be at times and the problems with the system. "Hold your friends close, hold your enemies closer"!

    August 7, 2009 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |

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