As someone watching it long after it initially aired, I could spend all day lobbing criticisms at The West Wing (of both the "significant" and "nitpick" varieties). The soundtrack is overbearing, with "serious time music" needlessly calling attention to dramatic moments. After her grating, over-the-top introduction, Mandy* isn't given much to do other than scold some people occasionally. Why did CJ decide to go out on a date with Danny directly after he expressed his disinterest in fighting against hate crimes? The ubiquitous walk and talk scenes are really silly! And so on.
Having said that, the show's wit and warmth break through all of its flaws in a way that has me completely hooked. The extent to which these characters care about their jobs and each other is palpable and, damnit, I want them to succeed! It's easy to look pastall of the cheese and the sanctimonious slant of the show - did the conservative antagonists from the pilot really need to be antisemitic as well? - when the its core is a group of smart, quippy people doing everything they can to make the world a better place. This show, which was often called a "liberal fantasy" as it aired alongside the Bush administration, still serves as wish fulfillment nearly 20 years later as I seek refuge from stories like this.
*Note: Apparently, Mandy is later disappeared from the show without anyone really noticing or caring. I can see why, even if it the blame lies more with the writing than with Moira Kelly.