No Rescue in Sight


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In the Episode,
"Take This Sabbath Day" (number 14 season 1) the subject is the death penalty. Pres. Bartlet is faced with a request to commute the sentence of a convicted murderer before he is executed. Bartlet, a "good" Catholic is troubled by the death penalty and also has the heavy weight of the office of the President and setting precedents that reflect his religion rather than the judgement of the courts frightens him. He asks to have his family priest come pay him a visit the night of the execution. Earlier, lawyers for the condemned man tried to get the President's ear through Toby and did so through Toby's rabbi and a targeted sermon. Also Bartlet has a conversation with a Quaker political consultant who happens to be in the West Wing on business. The following quote is from the script. The priest tells Bartlet this story:

Father Cavanaugh:

You know, you remind me of the man that lived by the river. He heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town. And that all the residents should evacuate their homes. But the man said, 'I'm religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.'

The waters rose up. A guy in a row boat came along and he shouted, 'Hey, hey you! You in there. The town is flooding. Let me take you to safety.' But the man shouted back, 'I'm religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.'

A helicopter was hovering overhead. And a guy with a megaphone shouted, 'Hey you, you down there. The town is flooding. Let me drop this ladder and I'll take you to safety.' But the man shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him and that God will take him to safety.

Well... the man drowned. And standing at the gates of St. Peter, he demanded an audience with God. 'Lord,' he said, 'I'm a religious man, I pray. I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?'

God said, 'I sent you a radio report, a helicopter, and a guy in a rowboat. What the hell are you doing here?



Bartlet is looking for help. An answer to his dilemma on whether or not to stay the execution. He actually asks Toby, Joey Lucas (the Quaker) and his priest. They all tell him to act to stay the execution, that state sponsored killing is wrong. He listens to them but does not hear them. He is too concerned with what he sees as a bad precedent to do what he knows in his heart is morally right.

The war in Iraq is a nightmare, a quagmire, a travesty, a tragedy. It was undertaken by an unelected President who wanted to prove to his daddy that he was "strong." He is the guy on the roof trusting God to rescue him.

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Over a year ago in November of 2005, Rep. John Murtha took a bold stance and put forth a resolution on
Removing the American Armed Forces from Iraq. That was the "radio report." Everyone who knows how things work on Capitol Hill knew at the time that he was speaking for the generals who could not voice their concerns publicly.

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Election Day 2006 was the rowboat. If it wasn't made obvious by the Democratic rout in the House and the miraculous one vote marigin in the Senate that the American people were shouting for a change in Iraqi policy . . . well, the rowboat moved on.

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Then there was the
Iraq Study Group report. that was released on December 6, 2006. A metaphorical helicopter with a dropped ladder if ever there was one. Bush 41 nudged his most loyal army to try to rescue his errant son. What did 43 do? He looked at the helicopter and gave it the one fingered salute.

So here we are. The water is rising faster than the storm waters of Katrina and W. is waiting for God to take him to safety.

What will God say to W when he drowns? Or will we be able to get to him before that happens and we all drown?
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