A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Yet Another Lib "Playing" a Republican

AP: Fireworks Promised on 'West Wing' Debate---

LOS ANGELES - The powers behind "The West Wing" are making this campaign promise: Sunday's live debate between presidential candidates Arnold Vinick and Matt Santos will be far from politics — or television — as usual.

Laurence O'Donnell, who balances work as a political analyst and a "West Wing" executive producer, said the hourlong episode (8 p.m. EDT on NBC) represents "my wish-fulfillment debate."

"We are using the accepted liturgy of presidential debates. It will look the same, it will be moderated by Forrest Sawyer, a real news person, it will have all that real feel to it," O'Donnell said.

"But I think it will be more satisfying in that the candidates end up really going into the issues in a way that they normally would not," he said. "They end up each forcing the other to get more honest as the debate wears on."

In other words, Republican Vinick, played by Alan Alda, and Democrat Santos, portrayed by Jimmy Smits, will listen and respond to each other — as opposed to real-world debates that tend to excise substance or spontaneity.

The fictional encounter starts with the usual rules, the kind that "are set up by the candidates and are there to protect the candidates and not promote an informed debate," said executive producer Alex Graves, who is directing O'Donnell's script.

But one of the politicians — Graves won't say who — quickly proposes tossing the book aside.

"And that's the starting point and everybody, including the moderator, underestimates what that's going to mean," Graves said. "It ends up ... with the candidates doing and saying things you would never expect to see in a debate, never."

The actors may also do something rarely seen. Although they have a script, Alda and Smits also received a crash course in debate strategy and issues that will allow them to veer off the page.
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The episode, with separate live versions for Eastern and Western time zones and with just two commercial breaks, could be the highlight of a resurgent year for "The West Wing," which is drawing lavish critical praise after being dinged in recent seasons for a creative slump.
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There's the immediacy of a story line with echoes of the CIA leak case, with the TV version involving communications director Toby Ziegler and space program secrets.

That's intercut with the lively presidential campaign that could end up with the White House remaining in the hands of the Democratic Party or with a moderate Republican senator from California gaining control early next year.
Joy, another Lib actor portraying (and with all probability misrepresenting) a Republican politician. Alan Alda on the West Wing (Note: Dems, this is fiction, not the real presidency). Donald Sutherland on Commander-in-Chief (Note: Also fiction, not real presidency).

What would be surprising is for Hollywood to have a true, staunch Conservative Republican play a Republican. At least then we might have a better representation. Hollywood prefers to show us as evil, mean, ready to deprive the elderly of medicine and children of food, vindictive, conniving people.

[Alda] likes his character — Vinick "seems unusual in that the positions he takes have some connection to the values he holds," Alda notes dryly — and is rooting for him.
I suppose it is odd for a Lib to know how it feels to have positions based on values he holds, as they rarely seem to do that. Libs prefer to form a position based on polls, focus groups, the audience, and which way the wind blows. For examples, see Bill Clinton, John Kerry ("I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it"), every Democrat who was "Pro-Life" and now supports abortion, every Democrat who listened to intelligence and voted for the War in Iraq and has since denounced the President and the war, etc., etc., etc. The Democrat party is made up of so many fringe groups and factions that there are no common values.

The Republican Party, in contrast, at least has certain values that are pretty consistently held. Sure, people might have slightly different opinions about strategies or how far to go on something, but for the most part we stick together.

The show airs this coming Sunday. If anyone watches it, I would love to know how the Republican is portrayed.