West Wing
The Mommy Problem

Episode Report Card
LTG: B | Grade It Now!
Poor Josh

In his office, Toby takes Josh's call. Josh is asking that they do something to quiet down the leak story, but Toby breaks it to him that the White House is ending its investigation of the leak. Josh recognizes that this will throw the focus onto security issues for a while, giving Vinick a chance to dominate the discussion and contrast himself with the Democrats. Josh starts yelling at Toby, who just hangs up on him.

Back at Santos HQ, a cable-news talking head is already discussing the effect of the announcement on the Santos campaign. I just don't think things happen this quickly -- especially not this early in the morning. Josh, looking angry and frustrated, walks over to the whiteboard while Otto asks if the leak fits into the "trivia" box. Josh doesn't answer -- instead, he just erases the checkmark he drew in the "domestic" box and draws another checkmark in the "security" box. Credits (which feature a curiously reduced cast -- no Janel Moloney or Dulé Hill, although Kristin Chenoweth, Mary McCormack, John Spencer, and Martin Sheen are there despite the fact that none of them appears in the episode).

Santos HQ is now buzzing with activity. Josh is on the phone in the conference room telling someone (Bram?) to keep Santos away from the press until they know how Vinick responds to the news. Joey and Kenny are in the conference room as well. She thinks some senior adviser needs to join Santos on the road. Josh selflessly offers to fly out that afternoon to be with Santos. Ronna turns on the television and calls Josh over. Vinick is giving a brief comment to reporters as he walks out of the Senate Office Building: "If that were my White House, I'd seal the doors and windows until we found that leaker. And then I'd throw him in federal prison." And then Santos is on the phone (on speakerphone, even): "What are they smoking in that White House of yours, Josh?" Santos and Bram (and a ton of other people) are exiting the campaign jet. Santos and Bram each have a cell phone to his ear. Santos is complaining about the White House "bogarting [his] education plan" and then screwing up their message with the announcement about the leak. Josh tells Santos not to comment, because doing so will take focus off of the economic message. Santos wonders how he's going to avoid it at the foreign-policy lunch, but someone (Edie? Ronna?) tells him that Josh already canceled that event. Instead, Santos is doing a town hall on high-tech jobs. In fact, it's a "reverse town hall." Voters aren't going to get to ask Santos questions -- instead, he'll ask them questions about their economic situations. Bram tells Josh that Santos can handle tough questions: "You should see him out here, he's on fire." Joey tells Santos that the focus on the leak is "magnifying the inevitable mommy problem." Ronna wonders what that means, so Josh explains that when voters want a "national daddy" to be tough on security issues, they vote for Republicans. And when they want a "mommy, to give them jobs, health care, the policy equivalent of matzo ball soup, they vote Democratic." I think Santos is a much better daddy than Alan Alda. But we may be talking about different kinds of daddies. Edie thinks Santos is better than Vinick on military issues, and that he has a personal story as a Marine combat pilot to back it up. But Josh thinks that's totally irrelevant, because voters will always perceive Republicans as stronger than Democrats on those issues. Santos gets it that he needs to give the press nothing to speak about other than his economic message. And then Bram fulfills his people-moving duties telephonically, telling the folks in HQ that they have to end the call in order to get Santos to a rally. Before long, Bram will be sending faxes to meetings to remind people that they have to be somewhere else.

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West Wing




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