Life Imitating Art

Occasional visitors to this space know by now the especially high esteem in which The Curmudgeon holds Aaron Sorkin, who has won Oscars and Emmys for the movies and television series he has written.  At least one person in The Curmudgeon’s life – not to name names, but it’s his sister – rolls her eyes every time he draws an analogy between some real-life situation and something that happened on The West Wing.

But sometimes that life-imitating-art thing happens on a much bigger stage, and that was the case last weekend when President Obama decided to do some Christmas shopping at a bookstore.  You can see his visit hereThe West Wing’s make-believe President Bartlet did the same in 1999, going book-shopping in a scene most memorable for his deputy chief of staff, a former Rhodes Scholar, picking up an obscure book with a ridiculous title and declaring that he’d probably eat that book before he’d read it.  View that scene here.

As much as life imitated art, there were a few differences.  President Bartlet went shopping before the bookstore opened, so he didn’t disrupt business; President Obama apparently went in the middle of the day.  President Bartlet refused to allow his staff to notify photographers of his shopping trip because he wasn’t looking for attention; President Obama was accompanied by cameras.  And while President Bartlet had an aide pay for his purchases, President Obama paid himself and then engaged in an awkward exchange with the clerk because he was surprised there was no carbon for the credit card purchase – shades of another president, Bush the Elder, demonstrating how out of touch he was by marveling at bar code technology at a supermarket and having no idea how much milk and bread cost during a disastrous presidential shopping trip during his four years in office.

Whether it’s real or imaginary presidents, though, The Curmudgeon likes people who give books as gifts.  It requires a lot of thought to find the right book and there’s a good chance the rewards a book offers will far outlast those of a box of candy (even good chocolate), a new shirt, a scarf, or, heaven forbid, a gift card.

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