West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Third Season Episodes * #315 (59) "Dead Irish Writers"
Dr. Bartlet Stockard Channing as First Lady Abigail Bartlet
NBC: David Rose
Teleplay: Aaron Sorkin, Story: Paul Redford, Director: Alex Graves
Takes Place: Before St. Patrick's Day, probably early March
Broadcast: March 6, 2002
Query: Would White House personnel treat a National Anthem as if it was just background music?
Query: Has England ever sent an ambassador to the United States?

A formal party is part of a week of celebrations for the First Lady's birthday. This party is the night before the Medical Board of New Hampshire will vote on whether (and if so how) to reprimand her for rule violations due to rules she broke while treating her husband for his MS.

At the party Great Britain's Ambassador, Lord Marbury tries to talk to the President, and later to Leo, about an invitation that has been issued for some upcoming St. Patrick's Day celebration at the White House to a member of the political arm of the IRA. Leo turns Marbury and his objections over to Toby and later Toby invites Marbury to a bar down the street.
"Brendan McGann cannot come to the White House," Marbury first tells Leo. Later he says to Toby, "I convey the objections of Her Majesty's Government."
"I think there's something to be said for giving McGann credibility by inviting him to the White House. It strengthens his hand in dealing with the more violent members of his own party. . .We also think if we legitimize him, the Protestants will wake up and accept they've got to negotiate with somebody. . . ."
". . . .When did it become policy of the United States to negotiate with terrorists?"
"We've had Arafat here. . . "
"And my heavens, isn't that paying bloody dividends!"
"It wasn't worth trying?" Toby asks rhetorically.
"You're making the mistake of youth."
"The President's not a kid."
"Your country is. You're involving yourself in a centuries-old conflict without sufficient regard for history. Listen to the warning of old friends. It was Kipling who warned to expect 'the blame of those ye better, and the hate of those ye guard. . . .'"
". . . . You're saying we should butt out of Ireland until we know what we're doing?"
"I'm saying Brendan McGann cannot come to the White House."
Later after quite a few more drinks, Marbury goes on about the historical horrors of the conflict in Ireland, including secret tribunals, public hangings, followed by war. Toby asks him, "So, wouldn't you say we were doing you a favour?"
"By intervening?"
"That's the act of a friend. What is left to do but talk? What could be better for that wounded place than sitting down and talking?. . . "
"Nothing. You must talk to him. . . . Toby, despite appearances, I do have lucid moments, and I know that England is running out of turns on this particular. . . But uh, as Ambassador for Her Majesty's Government I must tell you that. . . ."
". . . Understood, Mr. Ambassador."

While these two are off in the bar, C.J. has told Abbey that they have tracked down a story that one of the people on the board who will decide about her medical license is going to recuse himself. This means that the board will probably take her medical license away for a year. Annoyed, frustrated, and depressed, Abbey invites C.J. and Amy off to a private room to have a drink. She obviously needs to "let her hair down" and complain about her situation to people she thinks will understand. Later, after Donna has joined them, Amy asks Abbey,
". . . if the most they can give you is a year's suspension, is it ---"
"That big a deal?"
"Yes. . . . I'm a doctor. . . ."
But Donna thinks Abbey is leaving something out and she says, "Oh, Mrs. Bartlet, for crying out loud, you were also a doctor when your husband said 'Give me the drugs and don't tell anybody' and you said 'okay.'"
This stuns Abbey into silence. Donna realizes that she has overstepped the boundaries and is all apologetic, although Abbey says ". . . That's all right."
In what may be an attempt to change the subject, Amy says, The President "took the censure standing up, Abbey. I was very proud to have voted for him that day."
"Me, too."

Donna's honest comment and Amy's diversion get Abbey thinking and she decides to take the decision about her medical license into her own hands. In an attempt to make Donna feel less embarrassed for making the comment, Abbey arranges to have the Canadian National Anthem played since Donna has just learned that the place she was born has been declared to be part of Canada, and not the U.S.

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