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And we would be amiss if we didn’t present to you the classic scene from the West Wing of how a presidential debate *really* is supposed to look.


Ahh… it still makes me smile broadly and cheer for Jed. Also (see post below) Jon S has watched it… “the President showed up” is basically Josh Lyman’s line. So thank you for letting me use the special “life imitating art”-tag here at the Gates!


Actually, the commentators have had fun with the “Bartlet-Obama” references. The New York Times’ Two Presidents, Smoking and Scheming had none but Mr. Sorkin himself pen a scene where Jed B gives Barack O some debating advice.

From Obama’s performance in the subsequent debate (see post below) it would appear he listened…

OBAMA The girls are fine, that wasn’t the problem. In the debate prep we —

BARTLET Whoa … there was prep?

OBAMA (shouting) Enough! (taking a cigarette and lighting it) I appreciate that the view’s pretty good from the cheap seats. Gore chalked up my debate performance to the altitude. He debated at sea level — what was his excuse?

BARTLET They told you to make sure you didn’t seem condescending, right? They told you, “First, do no harm,” and in your case that means don’t appear condescending, and you bought it. ’Cause for the American right, condescension is the worst crime you can commit.

OBAMA What’s your suggestion?

BARTLET Appear condescending. Now it comes naturally to me —

OBAMA I know.

BARTLET It’s a gift, but I’m likable and you’re likable enough. Thirty straight months of job growth — blown off. G.M. showing record profits — unmentioned. “Governor, would you still let Detroit go bankrupt as you urged us to do four years ago?”

And that was quite a display of hard-nosed, fiscal conservatism when he slashed one one-hundredth of 1 percent from the federal budget by canceling “Sesame Street” and “Downton Abbey.” I think we’re halfway home. Mr. President, your prep for the next debate need not consist of anything more than learning to pronounce three words: “Governor, you’re lying.” Let’s replay some of Wednesday night’s more jaw-dropping visits to the Land Where Facts Go to Die. “I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of a scale you’re talking about.”

OBAMA The Tax Policy Center analysis of your proposal for a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut in all federal income tax rates, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, the estate tax and other reductions, says it would be a $5 trillion tax cut.

BARTLET In other words …

OBAMA You’re lying, Governor.