West Wing Live 11/06 - Open Spoilers

No thread already?



I was really hoping to find some commentary in place, because I’m very curious to read the reactions of liberal-minded observers.

To this conservative, Vinnick clearly won the debate. Obviously, he’s fictional, and as a pro-choice Republican he’s not altogether realistic. But the debates last night never got near abortion. And on pretty much every subject they did address, I thought Vinnick’s answers made sense and were the wisest course for the country to follow. Santos didn’t come across as dishonest or unprepared, but his policies just sounded naive next to Vinnick’s.

So I’d be very curious to read what others thought. Was this a Rorsearch test? Did you see a winner based on your own beliefs? Or did even the most liberal viewer say, “Yeah, the writers slanted it in favor of Vinnick?”

There is a thread below.

And I, a liberal, agree that Alan Alda beat Jimmy Smits, easily, but I’m not so sure Vinick beat Santos, if you get my meaning.

They’ll probably play it as a tie once we get back to pre-filmed episodes.

Do you suppose they’ll pick up on Smits’ (and not Santos’, I think) error in substituting the word “liberal” for “Republican” at one point ? (When they’re talking about liberal Republicans, he adverts to the “Liberal Party” in a context where "Republican party makes sense.) Smits did seem to make more delivery errors than Alda, who was plenty smooth (though thoroughly unimpressive–he seems like Joe Lieberman, only less booming a speaker.)

I think Vinick’s comments at the end really summed up the whole debate - two guys who want what’s best for the country, but they just have different ideas on how that needs to be done.

Vinick is willing to let the free market decide, while Santos has plans in place for each of these issues. In my view, Santos won the debate. He seemed to score more with the audience. I don’t have a specific count, but I seem to remember Santos getting more ‘spontaneous’ applause. So yeah, Bricker, I do see it as a Rorschach test.

What is the goal of a debate? Especially one with this type of format? Although I’m not sure this was a debate that “Lincoln would be proud of”, it certainly was a lot more entertaining, engaging, and informative than, say, the televised debate for the Virginia Governor’s race. But it did seem to me that Santos was ahead on a lot of the issues. I did like Vinick’s points on Third World poverty. He scored with that one, but otherwise I’m with Santos.

But where did the no war for oil come from? That seemed a little, well, if not improvised, at least tacked on at the end to fill in some time.

Especially since, in the West Wing universe, there’s been a Democrat in the White House for the past eight years and thus - presumably - no war for oil during that time.

A strong debate on both sides. I thought Santos won if only because the answer to everything can’t be “tax cuts and the free market.” I’ll agree, there are a number of things the free market does a lot better than the US Government. But if the job of the Presidency is to just deflect everything and let the economy take care of itself we wouldn’t need the job of the Presidency. I don’t wish to get off into GD territory, but the free market doesn’t always work cleanly without regulation.

What was interesting is that Santos’s answer on Mexican immigration was essentially the same as Vinnick’s answer on Africa’s dependency on aid, yet neither one seemed to notice it.

Not to get into GD myself, but the President doesn’t hold the power of the purse and orginally wasn’t supposed to get involved in the economy (that was Congress’ job if anyones), so there would still be need of the Presidency if he wasn’t involved in the economy, as there was before the Great Depression.

I noticed it. About the only thing that is different between the two arguments is that we don’t share a border with your average African despot. But they should have been a lot closer on their positions than they were.

West Wing wars - there really haven’t been any, have there (has there?)? There was that little spat with Kumar, random terrorist attacks (most notably the one that killed off the former CJCS Admiral and injured Donna), and one or two show of forces in the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East. It’s been a relatively conflict-free eight years. I wonder if thatt’s a story arc they’ll explore in the coming season? I wouldn’t mind seeing it, but I think it would kind of drag down the rest of the show.

And this has to be the first episode that didn’t feature any of the core characters (that remain) - Josh, CJ, Leo, and Pres. Bartlett.

I expected a ten second cameo of Josh pulling his hair out. “No! No! Don’t do that!” :slight_smile:

I though Alda/Vinnick scored some important victories, but on peripheral topics. His answer to debt relief was articulate, moving, and well-developed, for example, and he was refreshingly honest about education (though Smits/Santos was right–A/V was more about what’s wrong w/education than articulating, beyond vouchers, what he’d do).

But too often, on the topics this (liberal) hypothetical voter would be most interested in, he fell back too easily on Big Bureaucracy/Free Market. S/S had a very provocative response to health care but Vinnick had nothing to retort (and that’s a Free Market issue as much as any). Although his answer to ANWR was better than any I’ve heard from a real-life ®, he had nothing to contribute on alternate energy sources. He also had nothing but the tired generalities when Forrest tried to pin him on specific spending cuts.

That’s not too say S/S didn’t rely on some talking points too, and some of the positions from both were familiar without framing them in new contexts.

But A/V definitely had a better closing speech. He framed the “oppostion” of the two sides in a way that was accessible. I think the S/S closer was, within the context of the show, essential because this is a candidate few people know and it was as much about introducing himself as defining the qualities of their differences. A/V also seemed much more natural.

It reminded me a bit of the Reagan/Mondale debates, where Mondale would (IMHO) bloody Reagan on the details and facts and nuances, but the Gip would come across better–more natural, better sound bytes, broader vision. S/S was still a bit too stiff, since he still, in some sense, needed to earn his street cred in the political theater on a national scale, while A/V clearly came across as if he has nothing to prove. That confidence puts him over the top, I think, so that even though I agree with more (but not all) of what S/S was about, I have to give the debate to Vinnick (and kudos to Alda for doing an exemplary job).

I have to say, last night was the first night I was genuinely intrigued by the idea of A/V winning and seeing WW heading in a new direction. But based on the on-line polling, I don’t think there’s any hope of that actually happening (unless they want to kill the series).

Hmmm, well no one has written about the audio being mucked up, so I guess that was a problem with my local NBC affiliate’s HD feed, which has been flaky before. For the first half hour or so, it sounded like the episode was taking place in a fishbowl.

I for one will be absolutely shocked if they have Vinick win the election in the end. When the choice going forward to future seasons is Jimmy Smits & Bradley Whitford or Alan Alda & Patricia Richardson (no offense, but she’s forever the long suffering Mrs. Tim Taylor) I just can’t see them picking the latter, unless they chose to end the series.

Most of my thoughts during this episodes were trying to imagine the current real-world office holder having a similar “off-the-cuff” debate. It wasn’t pretty, but this isn’t GD.

A fascinating episode, and if Vinnick were president IRL right now instead of GWB, I think the country would be in MUCH better shape…

Does anyone know if there were different west and east coast versions? I didn’t notice the “liberal party” gaffe that someone mentioned, and I didn’t feel that Alda was hugely more polished and commanding than Smits.
As for my reactions to the political content (I’m a democrat) I would give it to Santos by a small amount. Basically, I thought he did a better job of fairly and accurately rebutting his opponent. His basic point was that lower taxes + free market is NOT a solution to every problem is self-evidently true. Not that lowering taxes + free market is BAD, but Vinnick was presenting it as a perfect panacaea, and it seems obvious to me that the difficulty is in knowing when to trust the market and when not. So I thought Vinnick came off looking naive.
I also thought Santos did a very good job of quickly summing up his accomplishments in life, without seeming arrogant about it, which Vinnick never really tried to do at all.

I’m sure there were small differences in each broadcast (East Coast vs West Coast), but I would expect that the second broadcast went smoother. Just because of the nature of the beast.

And I was kind of hoping that there would be cut-aways during the debate to the staffers, and even one or two shots of CJ and Barlett watching at the White House. Guess logistics prevented that.

So was Vinick a better debater than Santos, or does Alda have more experience and confidence onstage than Smits? And can both be true, using Alda’s traits to help define Vinick? Was this something, do you think, that the writer’s/producer intended, or was it something Alda used to flesh out Vinick?

In this Liberal’s opinion Vinnick clearly WON the debate. He seemed more steady more confident and aware. Santos was all piss and vinegar and ideals. Vinnick seemed to be subconciously telling the viewers… “Things are good right now right? Well I’m not going to rock the boat so just sit back and relax.”

But given that the sitting POTUS is a Dem., this really isn’t the message he wants to convey, is it? Anyway, I thought it curious that, between the 2 candidates, Bartlett’s name was only mentioned once (by Santos). Vinnick’s (via Bruno) is encouraging a non-negative campaign, so he just wants to present his case without mudslinging the other party, but the complete abasence of phrases like “the last 8 years” was curious from a challenger.

No shit, Zogby polled this one.. Santos was ahead of Vinnick, 59-29, prior to the debate.

I need to start watching this show.

Actually it is. The Dem candidate is obviously wanting to shake things up and rock the boat, if Vinnick looks like the guy who is going to keep things stable and as is, and if things are good… That’s an appealing message… obviously to a swing voter and not someone who votes along party lines.

Good episode, and even as a screaming liberal Democrat, I think Vinnick probably did a better job. I liked his comment about “how many have been to the National Park in Alaska?” and his views on Africa were very enlightening.

However, if this were a real debate with real candidates, I would still have to vote for Santos. But at least I wouldn’t feel suicidal if a Republican like Vinnick were elected…too bad his character is fictional. Just shows how a Republican who is not wrapped in an American flag and thumping a bible could actually be a mensch.

I thought that was ridiculous. We should preserve wildlife only if we can see them? Then screw the snowy owl. He only moves around in the dark anyway. I never get to see one.

I’m a little surprised to hear many of you claiming Vinnick won the debate, especially from self-described liberals. (Part of me wonders if impressions were different between the two broadcasts) I thought that it was a credit to the writers and actors in that it was indeed a Rorschach test.

I thought the debate was very even, both candidates clearly winning certain points. Alda/Vinnick did seem to use less politic-speak and was probably better at getting the last word and or controlling the debate. I thought Santos/Smits was far more informed and did a better job of articulating his position and rebutting Vinnick.

Due to the fact that neither character won the debate I figured each viewers personal views would color their impression of who won. I thought Santos won the debate by a thin margin and I am a liberal. I can easily see how a conservative would quickly jump to Vinnicks side and claim him as the victor. In either case I’d be surprised if a consensus were reached in favor of either. Which, I wager, was the goal of the show.

One minor nitpick I had was that I disliked how each canidate stepped out from behind the podium. It didn’t feel right and all it seemed to do was reinforce the fact that it was a live show/debate. It felt less natural and less real than what would happen in a real debate.

On the whole, I really enjoyed the episode. It was one of the rare occasions where a live TV gimmick really paid off and made for exceedingly compelling TV.