Apparently, this is live television. It's surely scripted(to an unknown extent), and rehearsed(?!), but its not pre-recorded.
Both candidates profess pre-debate terror.
Senator Vinick - out of conscience, proposes ditching the time limits on responses -like that would ever happen!
Congressman Santos naturally accepts. What else could happen in Hollywood? Still, great premise.
My expectations for this are the same as my expectations were halfway through the FX series "Over There": the producers/directors will tease me by touching on my side of issues, then they will drop the hammer with bs at the end of the show. That pretty much happened with "Over There", which had an American unneccessarily killing an innocent Iraqi boy in the last episode. I must say, though, I really enjoyed the entire "Over There" series. Good show. I made it appt. TV. On balance, it was a net positive for America's effort to help Iraqis succeed in being democratic.
Santos: problem of illegal immigration is ...
Vinick: changes subject to CAFTA, which Santos "voted for before he voted against."
Santos: rehabs John Kerry for future Presidential run.
Santos is waiting to drop the hammer re immigration... ... waiting... here it comes:
false alert - here it comes again: ".. this is an economic problem. Its about Mexico's economy. There is no real solution for this. "
Great. Typical Dem. No ideas on how to solve the problem.
Vinick: even Santos' tax increases won't be enough to pay for his spending increases.
Santos: I will balance the budget by raising taxes on the rich. Vinick has written loopholes into the tax code for the rich.
(This totally skirts the fact that lower taxes increase tax revenue by jazzing the economy. Grrrr. GRRRRRRR!!!)
Moderator Forrest Sawyer:
Spending Cuts? Specifics?
Vinick: Parents want them. Dems blocking them.
Vinick: Head Start doesn't work! (audience audibly ooohs/booos)
Santos: Head Start works, but we lose the progress once the kids start school.(He doesn't cite any relevant studies or statistics for this assertion.)
Forrest Sawyer threatens Vinick re: civility.
(I call bullshit. Vinick paid for that microphone!)
Vinick: stop pretending everyone can and should go to college, or that everyone can and should go to MIT.( Excellent!)
Santos demgogues Vinick: so you're just going to give up on those Head Start kids. I'm going to stake my Presidency on improving public education.
Vinick: make health care tax deductible.
Santos: this unfairly penalizes low income Americans.(a fair point, as far as I can see.) Nationalize health care.
Vinick: impossible to do effectively.
Santos: my ideal plan: let all Americans have the equivalent of Medicare benefits. Private insurance companies spend 25% on administrative costs. Medicare spends 2% on admin costs. (this is horribly misleading. Medicare is huge - this cuts admin. costs on a percentage basis. Also, Medicare is notorious for getting ripped off by Drs and health care vendors. Medicare pays mind boggling vendor ripoff costs, b/c they almost never investigate anyone who may be ripping them off.) Medicare is the most efficient healthcare system in the world. (oh my God! can't breathe... must .. calm... down) Takes gratuitous shot at HMOs. (Santos is saying Socialism will work! roll eyes here.) Santos takes shot at Pharmaceutical Companies.
Vinick defends Pharma Co's: amazing accomplishments - they save lives. (this has the following benefit for Dems: it identifies real life Repubs as defenders of Pharma Co's. Still, I'm glad to see it. If there's a Pharma Co problem, the solution is more Pharma Co competition - not more govt. We may need to check that Congress hasn't passed laws which prevent new Pharma competition from entering the market. The FDA may be guilty of such barriers to entering the Pharma market. It would be good to take a look at that.)
Canadian drug price limits are unfair to Pharma Co's. Aids drugs in Africa. (Boring).
Vinick: Tax cuts will help impoverished countries of Africa. They have the highest tax rates in the world. Keeps their people poor, and without capital for building things, and without ability to attract foreign business investment. Those nations have high tax rates to prove to us they can pay back our massive loans. Therefore, we have encouraged those nations to lock themselves into economic depression. In this situation, our charity will never be enough.(good stuff)
On commercial now - they have written in parts where each candidate gets a bit tongue tied and flustered. This is good, since we haven't seen a good Presidential debater in a long time. The best debater of my lifetime? Cheating a bit: Dick Cheney. He is fantastic at zeroing in on the important points. If you could combine Cheney with Reagan's charisma, you would have supercandidate!(and mass Dem suicide.)
Santos: technical bs answer.
Vinick: I would cut jobs in my first term.. I will reduce the number of jobs in the federal govt. The Presidents job is to get out of the way of private business.
Santos: Government needs to interfere with (implied corrupt) CEOs - such as Airline CEOs running their airlines into bankruptcy.
Santos: Abe Lincoln was a liberal Republican President, then Repubs got pissed off and ran liberals out of their party. (Santos hints, IMO, that Repubs are racist meanies.)
Santos makes long speech about accomplishments of Dems over years - with no response from Vinick!! Vinick folded! Damnit.
Vinick: pro 2nd amendment
Santos: we need bullet control.(roll eyes here)
Oil and Energy
Santos demagogues Vinick's Oil Industry ties(via campaign contributors?).
Vinick apologizes for his tone!! (I call triple bullshit!!! Bs Bs Bs!!)
Santos: not enough oil to make a difference.
Vinick: we'll never know until we start drilling. Clap if you've ever been to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?(zero claps. Vinick is very strong here- thank God. How could anyone honestly lose with all the facts on their side?)
Nuclear Power Plants:
Santos: radioactive waste!!
Vinick misspeaks: "nuclear is completely safe"(Repub misspeaking is the only way the Dems could win this argument also. The fix is in.)
Vinick: the market is the thing which can save us. (You preachin' to the choir!)
Santos: Global Warming!! (these days, crying "global warming" is like crying "racism" - it stops all conversational give and take.)
(Vinick may stroke out at some point. He's getting pretty hot.)
Santos: I will never go to war for oil. (huge applause) I invite Sen. Vinick to join me in that pledge.
Vinick: Oil is a commodity. You don't have to shoot people to get oil. You just have to pay for it.(Vinick refuses to take Santos' pledge. More to come later in the campaign about this. My antennae are up.)
Santos: govt is good. free market = scary, dangerous bogey man. I grew up a poor (Mexican) child. I'm not using my race as an advantage! I'm so virtuous for not having done so!
Vinick: Thanks Santos for dropping the rules. Different ideas about govt. I have more confidence in freedom. I don't want any more govt than we can afford. I don't want govt trying to do things it can't do. (Hooray!) The Presidential Choice = more govt vs. getting control of govt. (Hooray!) The Presidency needs experience and muture judgment.
(You preachin to the choir again! Vinick is talking about Santos' age, but I say the Dems are children with immature judgment. Do not let the children get their hands on the nation's controls!)
Final Analysis: Hollywood writers did as good a job as they could've of presenting conservative ideas they don't believe in. Very commendable. Alan Alda did as good a job as he could've of presenting ideas he doesn't believe in. Very commendable. That said, as presented, Hollywood made sure Santos won the debate by a narrow margin. Further, the Santos campaign will grab onto Vinick's refusal to take the "no war for oil pledge", and they will hammer Vinick with it for weeks. As they hammer Vinick, the West Wing writers will be metaphorically hammering President Bush. Blegh. Maybe the writers will surprise me by having Vinick eventually and effectively answer this scurrilous charge - which will pave the way for a Vinick campaign victory.* We shall see.
Final Grade: A+. Really. Outstanding episode.
* I'm not very excited about a possible Vinick campaign victory. I'm suspicious. It seems logical that writers who do not believe in conservative ideas will always find subtle, maybe even unconscious, ways to make a conservative President look bad. Ditto for Alan Alda. He's a decent guy, but it makes me queasy to think of him making the case for conservative causes.