West Wing
Talking Points

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Trade (And Intellectual) Deficits

Previously on America The Dutiful: Jed convinced a nation full of people that he would protect the American way of life to the best of his ability. And Josh helped! The staff spent the better part of five seasons repeatedly learning that it was not possible to do everything their respective ideologies might dictate, given the limitations of politics and the realities of public opinion. But then they all forgot. Who will be disillusioned tonight?

"Talking Points," says the black screen. We fade up on Josh wearing his newfangled and ill-advised flat hair into the White House, where he runs into Will "The Importance Of Being Tertiary" Bailey. Will turns to follow him, always up for a morning round of blunt exposition. Will congratulates Josh on being made a "trade negotiator," and a distracted Josh insists that it's not such a big deal; as with all negotiations as well as babysitting jobs, the key is to "let them wear themselves out." Will tells Josh that the negotiation site in Brussels is now surrounded by two hundred tractors, presumably being driven by farmers who aren't so hot on the whole global-trade thing, just because they're being driven into poverty and stuff. So selfish, those Belgian farmers. Josh isn't worried about all the tractors, "not being a bale of hay," and he blows Will off by promising to bring him a straw hat, which I guess is some kind of...farmer joke? Belgium joke? I don't know. Maybe I'm missing it; I'm not good at geography, as evidenced by my pub quiz team's recent 3-for-12 performance in the geography round. But anyway, yes, Josh, destitute farmers are amusing. You've got to love the common little agrarians and their quaint ideas about public policy.

Josh now meets up with Ed and Larry, who tell him that there's a press conference scheduled after the agreement is signed, and that they have a little placard prepared for it -- "Protecting Intellectual Property Through International Copyright Enforcement." Josh tells them they're totally missing the point -- yes, the trade agreement beefs up copyright protection, but free trade creates jobs, you see, and he doesn't want the president's yes-men to veer off course from this critical point and "outsmart [them]selves." He walks away and immediately runs into Donna, who provides a repeat of the tractor count update and informs him that Bill Parsons -- who we will learn is a union representative -- called. Donna returns to the tractor issue and asks what it is that the European farmers are upset about. "That they can't cling to a dying way of life," Josh snots, apparently forgetting that as something of a Luddite who barely cares about technology unless it hits home for him personally (he really is the character equivalent of you-know-who, in that regard), he's hardly in a position to lecture about getting with the modern era. He goes on to talk about how unreasonable the farmers are for fearing a situation in which they have to get office jobs and "wear neckties." Presumably, Josh would be perfectly happy to make an equivalent change in his own way of life by going to work, say, selling funnel cakes at the state fair. Donna tells him that she's heard India is signing on to the trade deal as well. Josh seems confounded, but Donna insists that it's true as far as she knows. He asks her to ask Ed and Larry to find out more about that, and she changes the subject slightly by mentioning that she's brought luggage, too. It seems that Donna wants to go to Brussels, and Josh insists that he's "still working on it," which means that he's doing nothing, as it generally does where advocating for Donna is concerned.

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West Wing

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