I’m sure you’re as bored as I am with all those articles likening Barack Obama to The West Wing‘s Matt Santos.

This isn’t one of those articles. This article is a short look at parallels that almost certainly won’t occur in the last few months of the Presidential campaign (SPOILER ALERT):

  • It’s highly unlikely that there will be a meltdown of an American nuclear power plant between now and election day — but if there is, John McCain will have a much harder time getting out of than Republican presidential candidate Arnie Vinick did.
  • Barack and Michelle Obama will probably not break a hotel bed in a particularly passionate reunion.
  • Even allowing for the fact that it’s one of the seven words you can’t say on television, it’s unlikely that Vinick would have called his deceased wife by the same epithet that McCain so infamously did.
  • Both McCain and Obama have outlined clear plans for campaign finance reform, unlike Santos and Vinick, who each made only a few vague statements on the subject.
  • Unlike Leo McGarry, whoever Obama chooses as his Vice Presidential running mate will probably not give a damn about improving diplomatic relations with Cuba. Also, Fidel Castro is no longer the Cuban head of state in any case.
  • McCain will most definitely not go off-format in the debates, however many of them there are. Obama probably would, though.
  • Obama will not be called upon to perform military service during the campaign as Santos was, as he is not a member of the United States Marine Corps Reserves (or any other military reserve).
  • Arnie Vinick never came up with an idea as memorably original (or as potentially unconstitutional) as McCain’s proposal for “President’s Question Time.”
  • Michelle Obama will probably not flash a g-string to reporters as Helen Santos did.
  • Although David Plouffe (Obama’s campaign manager) may get as little sleep as Josh Lyman did — and look as close to tearing his hair out a lot of the time — it’s unlikely that he’ll fall into bed with a fellow staffer on election night (not that we’ll hear about it if he does).
  • Nor will one of Plouffe’s major advisors be a disgraced and imprisoned former colleague — or at least, we hope not.
  • Also on election night, Obama’s running mate — who will definitely not be a recovering alcoholic — will also almost certainly not die of a heart attack. Although depending on whom he finally chooses, we may wish they had.
  • Whoever wins the election, he will not appoint the loser his Secretary of Defence — Obama and McCain are way too far apart on that issue for either of them to even consider this.
  • Come Inauguration Day, it’s unlikely that George W Bush will manage to surrender his position to his successor as gracefully as Jed Bartlet did to his, regardless of who that successor might be. And it’s flat out impossible that he’ll do so as eloquently.

On the other hand:

  • Both candidates will play similar roles — McCain, like Vinick, presenting himself as the older and wiser Republican who is his own man, not the tool of his party; and Obama, like Santos, presenting himself as fresher and less hidebound and prouder to be a member of his party.
  • Likewise, each candidate will poke at the other on precisely these points: Obama will emphasise McCain’s age (as Josh repeatedly calls for Santos to do), and McCain will question Obama’s experience as a leader (as Vinick repeatedly did to Santos).
  • Until the Democratic Convention has come and gone, no-one can be entirely sure that a former candidate who has withdrawn from the race will not try to present themselves as a candidate from the floor. Can they, Senator Clinton?
  • Whatever else happens between now and election day, a great number of people will have a great number of conversations on matters of great import at a breathless pace as they walk to and from their appointments…

…and you thought The West Wing was unrealistic!

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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