The lights from the presidential motorcade illuminate a New Hampshire farmhouse at night in the sprawling New England landscape. JED BARTLET steps out onto his porch as the motorcade slows to a stop.
BARTLET(calling out) Don’t even get out of the car!
BARACK OBAMA(opening the door of his limo) Five minutes, that’s all I want.
BARTLET Were you sleepy?
OBAMA Jed —
BARTLET Was that the problem? Had you just taken allergy medication? General anesthesia?
OBAMA I had an off night.
BARTLET What makes you say that? The fact that the Cheesecake Factory is preparing an ad campaign boasting that it served Romney his pre-debate meal? Law school graduates all over America are preparing to take the bar exam by going to the freakin’ Cheesecake Factory!
OBAMA(following Bartlet inside) I can understand why you’re upset, Jed.
BARTLET Did your staff let you know the debate was gonna be on television?
OBAMA (looking in the other room) Is that Jeff Daniels?
BARTLET That’s Will McAvoy, he just looks like Jeff Daniels.
OBAMA Why’s he got Jim Lehrer in a hammerlock?
BARTLET That’s called an Apache Persuasion Hold. McAvoy thinks it’s the responsibility of the moderator to expose — what are they called? — lies.
WILL(shouting) Did Obama remove the work requirement from Welfare-to-Work?!
WILL And you didn’t want to ask Romney about that because? It would’ve been impolite?!
Again, we see the idea that Jim Lehrer should have been actively covering for Barack Obama instead of being a fair and unbiased moderator.
I have not watched a single episode of The West Wing, but I gather it tells the story of a Democratic President in a strange, alternate universe in which liberal ideas are actually popular in America and Democrats can win without pretending to be moderates. Also, Liberals in this world are intelligent and articulate and do not have to resort to name calling. I know it is an incredible premise but the show was on for seven years, so I suppose it offered some consolation for Liberals who found the real world too harsh.
But the main point here is that Dowd repeats the idea that will soon become the conventional wisdom on that first debate, that Romney defeated Obama not because he is a better debater, or that his ideas are superior, but because he kept lying and Obama was simply too astonished by his blatant prevarications to reply.
BARTLET All right! (back to OBAMA) 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.
BARTLET “I saw a study that came out today that said you’re going to raise taxes by $3,000 to $4,000 on middle-income families.”
OBAMA The American Enterprise Institute found my budget actually would reduce the share of taxes that each taxpayer pays to service the debt by $1,289.89 for taxpayers earning in the $100,000 to $200,000 range.
BARTLET Which is another way of saying …
OBAMA You’re lying, Governor.
I sincerely hope that President Obama does try something like this for the next debate. I have a feeling that Romney will have all the facts and figures he will need to verify his statements at hand and ready to use. Obama will only make a fool of himself if he keeps repeating, “You’re a liar”.
By the way, Maureen Dowd is probably the last person on earth who should be lecturing anyone on honesty, given her propensity to omit words from quotes to alter their meaning. This practice is called dowdification and in listed in the Urban Dictionary.
The omission of a word or a phrase in order to reframe a quote and alter its meaning. This is usually done to help an author portray a particular viewpoint and is very common amongst weblogs. The term is named after the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.
Her dowdification seriously mischaracterized his statement
That says enough.
- Maureen Dowd Fantasy: ‘President’ Jed Bartlet Advises Obama to Call Romney a Liar in Next Debate (newsbusters.org)
- Obama rescued by Jed Bartlet (prairieweather.typepad.com)
- ‘West Wing’ Character Gives Obama Debate Advice (huffingtonpost.com)
- Jim Lehrer to critics: ‘So what?’ (washingtonpost.com)