West Wing
The Two Bartlets

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How Now, Butter Cow?

As Toby departs, there's a bit more turbulence. He goes back to his seat next to C.J., who asks what happened. Toby just shoots her a look; she knows. C.J. says, "They say something in the primary that forces us to the left so that we have to..." Toby interjects, "Is that how it works?" She says yes. Toby: "Tell me more, Obi-Wan." Hey! What kind of shout-out is that? Maybe not one at all. It would be so great if someone, particularly C.J., would call him Toby-Wan. Ah, maybe some other time. Toby thinks that since Jed's going to a college campus, it'd be a pretty good time to address the issue of affirmative action in admissions. C.J. says, "Yeah," in a slightly edgy way. Toby, getting that C.J. is peeved about something, finally asks, "What?" She says, "Your father didn't need affirmative action and neither did mine, and they were both children of immigrants." Um.... Toby asserts, "Your father needed the GI Bill, and so did mine." C.J., pre-emptively acknowledging her atypical attitude, says she's the wrong Democrat to talk to about this. Toby asks why. She hesitates and says, "'Cause...after my father fought in Korea, he became what this government begs every college graduate to become. He became a teacher, and he raised a family on a teacher's salary and he paid his taxes, and always crossed at the green. And any time there was an opportunity for career advancement, it took him an extra five years because invariably there was a less-qualified black woman in the picture, so...instead of retiring as superintendent of the Ohio Valley Union Free School District, he retired head of the math department at William Henry Harrison Junior High."

Whoa! Slow down there one minute. First of all: I recognize that C.J.'s got a personal stake in this, but is this really her considered view? This woman who worked for EMILY's List? Second: while I'm sure that in some cases, in order to fill quotas, less-qualified people of colour have no doubt received positions or promotions over more qualified white candidates, isn't it rather disingenuous to insist that's always the case? Even in the single instance of her father's career, I doubt she knows for a fact that every time he didn't get promoted or advanced, it was to the advantage of a less qualified black woman. Whose word has she got for that, anyway: her father's? We don't know whether he was a paragon of anti-racist sentiment and behaviour. Perhaps he even had his own limitations that dictated that he would not rise to the level of superintendent, whether there'd been any black female candidates or not. Again, I understand it's her dad, but let's not be totally irrational. And why specify black women? No black men were ever the beneficiaries of AA? No Asian or Hispanic or Native American men or women, perhaps? On the other hand...people hold inconsistent and irrational views all the time, so it's not entirely implausible that C.J. really feels this way. And I bet she wouldn't say this to just anyone, but she obviously trusts Toby with it. Because they love each other. (I'm trying not to turn into one of the scary 'shipper people, but I feel my grasp on reality is becoming more tenuous....) Toby takes this in and, perhaps wisely, decides not to make a big thing out of it with her. He asks how her father is these days. She thinks for a moment and says that he's fine. They go back to their work.

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West Wing




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