Mostly rational politics, with occasional rants about how a few crazy Republicans are ruining the country.
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Thursday, February 17, 2005
What can we learn from The West Wing
On last night's episode of the West Wing, Jimmy Smits (playing Congressman Matt Santos) is running to succeed Martin Sheen as President. Santos is an underdog with good, controversial ideas, trying to elevate the level of discussion in the campaign and not play by the typical kiss-ass rules of early primary states.
One thing that occurred to me while watching last night (and yes, I know it's a TV show) is that American people really value authenticity more than almost anything else in a candidate for President. They saw it in Bush, and not in Kerry. So when Santos went live on New Hampshire TV for 60 seconds a few days before the primary, and spoke frankly about his desire to always communicate directly and honestly to citizens, rather than through tricky opposition campaign ads, it struck me as a really good idea. Why don't more presidential candidates do this?
When do you learn most about the candidates? I'd argue it's during the debates, when they're on the spot and speaking in their own voice, not that of their campaign staff. Ross Perot got the idea - remember his 30 minute infomercials? He was a funny sounding, funny looking Texan who got 20% of the vote in 1992. Well, I think Democratic presidential candidates should borrow a page from Santos and Perot - once a week speak directly to the camera, live if possible, show people your real personality, and soak up the free air time in the echo chamber.