West Wing Question: Season 6 Finale

We’re catching up on Netflix and I have a question about the Season 6 finale (Democrat Party Convention where they have to keep voting to pick a nominee.)

At one point, after three days of voting with no candidate getting enough delegates, Leo reaches out to Matt Santos and asks him to withdraw so the delegates can focus on either Russell or late entry Baker, with Hoynes falling by the wayside. Leo talks about the good of the party and how his sacrifice will not be forgotten, wink wink nudge nudge, your time will come, my son.

Santos asks if he can address the convention again, and Leo agrees, I guess thinking Santos is going to make a concession speech.

To the shock of everyone (except maybe the viewing audience at home) Santos instead gives a speech about how he will not bow to the will of the party but instead wants the delegates to make their choice, rah rah. Of course, he wins the nomination.

Why wouldn’t Baker and Russell have screamed bloody murder and demanded the opportunity to address the convention again as well? I guess in the name of trying to fit everything into a 47 minute show they couldn’t address that, but they made a big point at the beginning of the episode with all the campaign managers getting into a pissing match over who speaks first and who gets the biggest trailer and everything.

Was it all or nothing for Santos at this point? If he hadn’t won the nomination, would he have been blackballed with the Democrats? Or did he trust in his charisma enough to know he could whip the crowd into a Santos-loving frenzy?

I’ve been slowly re-watching the series. I’m only about four or five episodes into S6, but at this point Santos is still insisting that he’s not running for re-election because he wants to go home to Houston. I can’t remember at this point if he is sincere about that or really does have his sights on higher office. But it could be that he figures at the convention that he has nothing to lose by going for broke - yes, he’ll have burned his bridges with the party, but he doesn’t care about running for office again anyway. It’s pretty unrealistic though that someone as savvy as Leo would fall for that trick, though. And even though Santos wins, he’ll have really damaged himself with a lot of folks supporting the other candidates. Not a good start to the general campaign.

That scene didn’t work for me either. Santos had made a deal, broke it completely, and suffered no consequences. There should have been some scene showing some aftermath.

There was another scene that I felt similarly about in the seventh season. (It’s not a huge revelation but I’ll spoiler it because the OP said she’s watching the series for the first time.) Santos and Vinnick have worked out an agreement on the debate. But then just as the debate starts on live television, Vinnick challenges Santos to a do the debate in a different format - and Santos agrees.

It’s been a while since I watched it, but:

… wasn’t it their respective teams that had decided on the format? Both candidates kept saying “that’s not a real debate,” but were overruled by their handlers. It’s only when they get on the debate floor that they’re actually able to talk to one another without their handlers overriding them, and they go off the rails into a “real” debate.

It’s supposed to be a statement on how candidates can be the tool of the candidacy, or something like that. A twist on the “let Bartlett be Bartlett” from first season.[/spoiler]

There would only be consequences if he lost. He would have been dead in Democratic Politics. Since he won, any move against him would ultimately hurt the party.

So he played them. If he lost, he was going to get out of politics anyway. Since he won, they have no choice but to grit their teeth and support him.

I remember thinking that at the time, too. Too often it’s a cheap way for Hollywood to say, “He takes a big chance, breaks the rules and wins - isn’t he cool?” IRL there can be severe consequences to such stunts (unless, I suppose, your name is Donald Trump).

Gov. Baker, Santos’s rival at the convention, later

is going to be nominated as his Vice President under the 25th Amendment after Leo dies on Election Night.