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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Political Life Imitating Political Art?

Perhaps there is something to be said about that famous Ecclesiastes maxim: "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." I read Peter Funt op-ed this week--yes, THAT Peter Funt of Candid Camera fame--and wondered if life was imitating art or simply that politics is more predictable than we think. Decide for yourself.

West Wing

A Race Straight Out of a 'West Wing' Rerun

Peter Funt
Op-Ed - Washington Post
May 26, 2008; A17

How's this for a political plot: Good-looking congressman in his mid-40s, married with two young children, known for his inspirational speeches, comes from far behind to clinch the Democratic nomination and face an older, more experienced centrist Republican. If he wins, he's America's first non-Caucasian president.

It's a drama that plays out each day in the papers and through nonstop cable-TV coverage. But some are beginning to notice that it's a rerun. The whole thing was broadcast a few years back on NBC's "The West Wing."

As one who believes Aaron Sorkin's program belongs on a short list of television's finest dramas, I've been fascinated by similarities between the show's Democratic candidate, Matthew Santos, and the party's apparent real-life counterpart, Barack Obama. With Obama's nomination becoming more certain, "West Wing" references have intensified among bloggers and in the British press.

Apparently even Obama's staff is taking note of the degree to which life is imitating art. (They especially like the ending in which Santos, played by Jimmy Smits, narrowly defeats Alan Alda's character, Arnold Vinick, who bears more than a little resemblance to John McCain.)

Here's Santos on the campaign trail: "In a time of global chaos and instability, where our faiths collide as often as our weapons, hope is real . . . I am sure I will have my share of false starts. But there is no such thing as false hope. There is only hope."

How is this happening? Is politics so predictable, even in what some call the most unpredictable campaign ever? Or were the writers of "The West Wing" just that insightful? Turns out, it's a little of both.

Read the full op-ed.

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Anonymous Anonymous said:

Only the Democrats could screw up the type of anti-Republican sentiment we've presently got.

The Dems have already found a way to lose this election. They want Obama so badly but can't deal with the Clinton situation.

McCain, quiet and calm, seems vastly more presidential and equipped for the gig, er, job.

May 29, 2008 10:08 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

It's not just life imitating art, it's life self-consciously imitating art in a PC ideal reality: you've just supported all those who argue that the left coast libs annointed Obama from the beginning because they like "his story," while Clinton's was all too familiar.

The comics would have a hard time with Obama, though -- you can't make fun of a person of color, whereas the old/dead guy jokes would be never ending fodder.

May 29, 2008 10:13 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

West Wing was cancelled.

May 29, 2008 11:52 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Politics is predictable because people are predictable, and the movers and fakers that create our political leaders (yes, I did mean to say "create" them) out of whole cloth know what motivates people.

They're the same types that sell 8-passenger SUVs to suburban families with 1.5 children each, and make the inner-city "gangsta" lifestyle hypnotic to the kids of scared parents who moved to the outskirts of town to get away from urbanity and everything it means.

If you want to see how it's done, then a better TV show to make note of is "Mad Men" on AMC. Cynical, amoral, double-dealing suits making six figures right out of Ivy League universities who learn to tweak and twist the public's demand for crap no one needs, and most people can't really afford.

I hope I'm not giving away any of your trade secrets, Parque? Who knows better how to make a 'family man' and 'education' mayor out of a serial womanizer who failed repeatedly at nearly all his own educational aspirations.

May 29, 2008 12:04 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Who cares what Alan Funt thinks? Isn't he supposed to be clowning somebody right now?

Instead of writing dopey op-ed pieces, he should be suing Ashton Kusher for stealing his only brilliant idea.

May 29, 2008 9:29 PM  

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