Monday, October 26, 2020

This Australian Politician Was Caught Out Using West Wing Quotes In A Speech

This Australian Politician Was Caught Out Using West Wing Quotes In A Speech

For many political junkies, Aaron Sorkin’s television show The West Wing has become a religious text. The fictionalised world depicting a rose-tinted (or completely divorced from reality if you ask some) view of U.S. politics that inspired a generation to believe in the power of rousing rhetoric and bipartisanship.

And now it seems like a fan of the show — a sitting Australian politician, no less — flew a bit too close to the sun.

On Wednesday, Victorian state politician Will Fowles gave a 90-second speech to parliament about COVID-19.

But at least one keen listener noticed that the short yet rousing speech sounded familiar.

Radio station 3AW’s state political reporter James Talia noticed that the Member for Burwood’s speech lifted multiple phrases from Jed Bartlet, the show’s presidential character that was played by Martin Sheen.

A number of phrases like “we did not expect nor did we invite” used in The West Wing were littered throughout Fowles’ speech.

Talia said he spoke to Fowles about the speech who acknowledged that parts of his speech had been inspired by Sorkin’s words — but he denied that he had intentionally plagiarised them.

“He has said he has phrases that are kind of lodged in his brain … and this was an unconscious homage to The West Wing’s creator Aaron Sorkin, who he describes as one of the greatest speechwriters we’ve ever seen,” Talia told 3AW Breakfast on Thursday morning.

It’s not the first time that Australian political leaders have borrowed from fiction — or even something created by Aaron Sorkin. Now-federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese was caught out lifting from Sorkin’s film The American President.

And who could forget the time that Malcolm Turnbull led the Coalition’s federal election campaign on a slogan straight out of the satirical TV show, Veep? (And there are plenty of examples abroad, too.)

Given the level of speechcraft generally present in Australian politics, perhaps we need more The West Wing, not less.

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