27 September 2008

And the Debate Winner Is...

Lawrence O'Donnell. For all the faults of the "live debate" episode of The West Wing, this is what I — as a voter — wanted to see: Candidates who actually engaged each other's policies instead of vacillating between personal attacks and mealy-mouthed promises with virtually no substance to them. Of course, O'Donnell was writing a work of fiction, so he could actually fulfill my rather minimal expectations.

   I think it is no coincidence that it took a work of fiction for the writers to trust the audience to draw its own conclusions, without spin, without evasion, without condescension. And not just any work of fiction: A serial, episodic novel transported to network bloody television, with commercial breaks and all. A collaborative work, ultimately created by someone with no personal experience in government, but praised by those who do have that experience as exceptionally realistic (regardless of ideology).

   Or we could go back a few years and see the same sort of thing, even more pointedly. Perhaps, in the end, this is just a corollary of one of the problems of hewing too close to the "facts" and/or "truth" in a work of fiction: Nobody will believe it.