Monday, November 07, 2005

Live Debate

I watched the live "debate" on West Wing last night (while taping The Simpsons Halloween Special--it can be done). The two fictional Presidential campaigners, Santos and Vinick, went at it in a live show (done separately for both East and West Coast). Supposedly, the actors were allowed to be spontaneous, though it was pretty clear while they had a little leeway, they were mostly going from set piece to set piece. Even the audience had its "lines."

It was interesting in that with a regular debate, I watch two things at once--who's making the better arguments and who's actually winning (two completely different things). But West Wing added a third factor: who's the better actor, Alan Alda or Jimmy Smits?

As to who had the better arguments, both were allowed to make reasonable points. Overall I'd probably side with Vinick because I'll generally take the free market over higher taxes, but it was close.

Who would have won with the public, that was tougher to call. Some of what they said sounded odd, because they were allowed to make specific claims politicians avoid because they're too controversial. For instance, Vinick said Head Start doesn't work. He's probably right, but people feel so warm and fuzzy about it that it's probably too dangerous to frontally attack. Overall, Vinick scored some solid points, but I think Santos played it safer--gave the opposition less ammunition in the post-debate spinning--so he probably won.

As to the acting, I think Alda, who's got a bag of tricks, pretty easily defeated Smits, who was more or less stuck being the stiff.

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