Duels or “classy show-downs” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. They're useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel? Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills. Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.
This week: Jack Donaghy v. Alex P. Keaton in a Republican primary.
It goes without saying that these two men are financial masterminds, with nothing lacking in the confidence department. The confidence is at least partly justified; both men were precocious and preternaturally talented as children. Alex was an economic wunderkind — with his Nixon rattle and dollar sign mobile — doing his parents taxes at age five. Jack was a sports hero on his ice hockey team and also a talented flutist. Sadly, his mother once forced him to combine these talents and play the “Star Spangled Banner” on the flute in front of his hockey team in Sadchester, Massachusetts. An electoral race between these two heavy-hitters would pull out all the stops. Let’s take a look at how they stack up.
Both men excelled in school and held leadership positions from a young age. Jack was captain of the diving team and Alex was co-editor of the Harding High yearbook. (In the 80’s, without the aid of computers, yearbook preparation demanded an incredible amount of athletic vigor and stick-to-it-iveness.) Jack won the Amory Blaine Handsomeness Scholarship to Princeton, but Alex won the McKinley Scholarship to the renowned Leland University. This was, of course, after Mallory ruined Alex’s on-campus admissions interview when she tagged along to surprise her boyfriend, Jeff, who was attending Princeton and dating another woman. Alex chose to comfort Mallory during her romantic crisis rather than complete his admissions interview and he forever dashed his dream of attending Princeton. Alex wasn’t even mad at Mallory for damning him to a life without the riches of Princeton: thirteen different a cappella groups and a completely unwarranted sense of superiority for an association with something in New Jersey.
Jack would never have wasted his time with such nonsense on the Princeton Campus. No ridiculous “family ties” got in the way of Jack earning a Princeton degree, which most people don’t know is printed on black paper in orange ink. A tight schedule kept him focused as he pulled himself through Old Nassau by his bootstraps. Whether it was Halloween or Parents’ Weekend (no real difference), Jack was too busy working “the day shift at a graveyard and the graveyard shift at a Days Inn,” as a janitor, and for the Linguistics department to preserve the perfect American accent. Additionally, Jack once overcame a peanut allergy through sheer willpower. Point: Jack
Every day, Jack uses his arctic blue eyes to find his tuxedo, including the $1200 pants, for when the clock strikes 6:00 p.m. Why? Because “he is not a farmer.” Alex — while not usually dressed in black-tie — is no less overly formal for most situations. He wears jackets and ties to a public school, and carries a briefcase throughout college. Were Alex competing with the picture of himself that Jack keeps in his wallet from twenty years ago though, he would probably lose.
However, with his boyish charm and tweedy outfits, Alex could be fronting a present-day Indie band (were that band to play songs exclusively about Supply-side Economics). When competing against a 50-ish Jack, Alex’s youth is an asset. Also, though attractive, Jack’s haircut with its Continental part, can read as aggressive — especially when compared to Alex’s feathered-to-perfection styling. In contrast to Jack, Alex charms and disarms; his approachability is so attractive. He’s the (Reaganomics-loving) boy next door, who knows exactly how to sit on a kitchen counter. Point: Alex
Alex’s skills of debate are obviously strong, as he vehemently opposed the ERA and yet managed to convince several women to date him for extended periods of time. However, Alex has been known to stumble in arguments. For instance, his Uncle Ned, who looks a lot like Tom Hanks for some reason, trounces him when they argue about corporatism. Alex is left speechless and without breakfast. Honestly, the only worthy opponent for Jack in a debate is the ultimate game: Jack Donaghy, playing with himself. It's a Jack-off. Point: Jack
Jack has skied Mount St. Helen's, made eye contact with Michelle Bachman, and been trapped under a boulder for 128 hours. He vainly admitted to writing the song “you’re so vain.” Despite his promises to Lemon that “if you ever speak ill of Reagan again, I'll smack those teeth straight,” Jack’s zest is less an impressive commitment to conservative values and more a zest for being impressive, overall. This trait might push him a bit too far into liberal territory because, as we well know, Republicans don’t usually cotton to impressive candidates. However, they do enjoy a man with a message. And that message should be that liberals are monsters. Alex is willing to interrupt a kindergarten class in order to stress this point and indoctrinate court the youth vote. Point: Alex
Alex mysteriously never uses his full name, instead he abbreviates the middle initial “P.”, which makes it look like he has something to hide. Jack once (probably) killed a dolphin. That evens things up. Considering that Alex was born in Africa while his parents were in the Peace Corp will certainly bring up questions of citizenship (and whether or not he is a Muslim or a space alien). Luckily, Alex will learn from past and produce his long-form birth certificate, immediately. Jack, on the other hand, interned for Senator Ted Kennedy, and mistakes like that are hard to recover from, ever. Point: Alex
Alex would choose his dad Steven with whom he would fight about politics the whole time while extolling advice Steven doesn’t want to take. Jack would choose Lemon with whom he would fight about politics the whole time while extolling advice Lemon doesn’t want to take. Both campaign managers would be essentially figureheads, except for when they occasionally hamstring the campaign with their liberal ideals. Point: Draw
Jack is no fan of the media because he knows “they wait for a mistake and that's all you are. It happened to Hitler. No one ever talks about his paintings.” He certainly rides (in a chauffeured limo) outside the lines. Jack was willing to stand up in front of an entire executive dining room and declare that a democrat congresswoman “is my lover. That's right. She's my liberal, hippy-dippy mama; my groovy chick; my old lady. She was our chief adversary during the Sheinhardt Wig hearings. She wants to tax us all to death and make it legal for a man to marry his own dog. But I think what we have is special, and I'm proud of her. And I'm not going to hide it any longer. I'm Jack Donaghy, damn it! And this is my woman.” And they applauded him. Point: Jack
In the end, the election would probably result in a vicious run-off. Using the same secret power that got him voted “Most” at Harvard Business School, Jack would edge out Alex. He would then immediately invite Alex to be his running mate and new protégé. A Donaghy-Keaton ticket would absolutely demolish anything in its path.
Winner: both (Loser: the underclass)
Laura Jayne Martin lives and writes in New York City. She is not available for children's birthday parties.
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