Megan McArdle blogs at The Daily Beast:
The American President and The West Wing are not searing portrayals of effective political management. They’re drama. The first question a dramatist asks is not “Is this how it really works?” but “Is it entertaining?” And the second is “Can the audience understand this in less than thirty seconds?” Veracity is way, way down the list. If you want a clue to how realistic it all is, consider that Aaron Sorkin awarded Jed Bartlett the Nobel Prize in Economics. Then go interview some Nobel Prizewinning Economists and ask yourself whether a single one of them would have the desire, or the ability, to run for president.
Jed Bartlett doesn’t win policy debates because of his amazing tactical skills, his overpowering arguments, or the sheer persuasiveness of his granite-faced brand of urbane folksomeness. He wins them because Aaron Sorkin is a liberal and he wants Republicans to lose on the major issues. Unfortunately for liberals, Tom Coburn and John Boehner don’t have their lines faxed over from Hollywood every morning.
I enjoy political TV shows such as The West Wing and House of Cards (not Veep though!). They are great dramas and they can illuminate how politics work to some degree.
But at the end of the day, they follow a script. They are not documentaries. You do not win or lose based on the tactics shown on The West Wing. And I’m pretty sure the US House Majority Whip doesn’t murder congressmen who cross him.