One of my favorite TV episodes of all time is the West Wing episode In Excelsis Deo. In it, Toby Ziegler arranges a funeral for a homeless veteran of the Korean War who died of exposure. Toward the end, President Bartlet is asking Toby about his use of the president’s name to arrange it.
” … you don’t think every homeless veteran will come out of the woodwork?” he asks.
“I can only hope,” says Toby.
This also illustrates for me the potential power of fiction. There is no President Bartlet, nor any Toby Ziegler as White House Communications Director. They are characters in a drama. Nor is there really any Walter Huffnagel with a brother named George who is “slow.”
Yet there are thousands of Huffnagels, and many of them will not find a Toby Ziegler, no “powerful person” as Toby calls himself, to arrange something for them. There are also thousands of potential Toby Zieglers, potential moments such as the this fictional moment.
Will those people come out of the woodwork?
One can only hope …
You can watch the final portion of the show on YouTube (playback elsewhere has been disabled by the owner).