Personally I always thought Mars Direct was a much better plan. I heard Zubrin talk about it once - seemed reasonable, not dependent on TV ratings, and you already had some proof of concept and a base of operations before you ever launched people at the big red rock. Of course the details is where you keep the devils and I think Murphy would be all over this one.
I can see a place for heroic leaps for science - including the possibility of a one way trip off the planet, but I'd have my doubts about the sort of people who would sign up for less than even a one cheek effort just to walk around a bit before needing a rescue which would never happen on time
What's worse is the precedent. Sure, as a culture we may be willing to put in a moon-shot effort if some legitimate (but corporate) Mars colony suffered disaster (which could be corrected by prompt Earth action). It's far less likely that we'd mobilize the effort if we're already practiced at letting "space junkies" die on their own recognizance.