West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Episodes * #3 "A Proportional Response"

Written by Aaron Sorkin, Directed by Marc Buckland
Takes Place: Three days after #2 ends - late August 1999 (Congress is still out on August recess)
Broadcast: October 6, 1999
Query: Who hired Charlie?
Congress ©2001-www.arttoday.com

It is revealed that a Democrat in Congress, who has been a thorn in the President's side for some time, has said that the President shouldn't come to his district as he might be killed because people in his district are patriotic:
"Don't take the bait." ---Josh tells Toby, who is about to hit the roof.
"You'd better believe I'm going to take the bait."
"There ought to be a law." Leo blowing steam a little and also egging Toby on.
Leo shrugs when Josh asks him:
"Why get him started?"
"There is a law. How about threatening the life of the President? He was talking to other people: how about conspiracy? They were military officers, how about treason? That was a member of our own party."
"It's bad, I know," Leo says. "What are you going to do?"
"Have the Justice Department bring him in pending felony charges."
"Toby's right. What's the good of being in power if you're not going to haul your enemies in for questioning?" This earns Josh a kick from C.J. and a snigger from Sam.
"What we really need to do is arrest people for being mean to the President," Leo says, ending the discussion.

Leo tells the staff to get ready for an attack on the country that has helped the terrorists who shot down the Americans. But, he tells them, they need to give no indication that anything is happening:
"Let's do this right."
"Not much chance of that," Josh says, just blowing off steam.

Both in this episode and in Aaron Sorkin's "The American President", Sorkin has the president ask about a Proportional Response:
"What's the virtue of the Proportional Response?" (note: in "The American President", it's "Some day you'll have to explain the virtue of a Proportional Response.")
"It isn't virtuous, Mr. President. It's all there is." Admiral Fitzwallace answers. Anything else would be seen as "A staggering overreaction by a first time commander-in-chief."

Later Admiral Fitzwallace tells Leo:
"You're going to have to set him down, Leo."
"I know."
"Any advice?" Leo asks Fitz.
"Oh, it's not my place."
"Yes, it is."
"Tell him he's doing fine. Presidents don't make new friends. That's why they have to hang on to the old ones. You'll know what to say."

Although the President agrees to a proportional response, he is testy with everyone until Leo takes him aside to reinforce what Admiral Fitzwallace has said:
"We are behaving the way a superpower ought to behave."
"Well, our behavior has produced some crappy results...."
"And you think racheting up the body count's going to act as a deterrent?.... So my friend, if you want to start using American military strength as the arm of the Lord, you can do that. We're the only super power left. You can conquer the world like Charlemagne. But you better be prepared to kill everyone and you better start with me, 'cause I will raise up an army against you.... Of course, it's not good. There is no good. It's what there is. It's how you behave if you're the most powerful nation in the world. It's what our fathers taught us."
". . . When I think of all the work you put in to get me to run. When I think of all the work you did to get me elected. I could pummel your ass with a baseball bat."

Theme of Episode: The urge for Revenge in the hands of the Powerful

For anyone interested in guest stars of this episode, let us recommend the West Wing Episode Guide.
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