• Joe Pace

Favorite Fictional Characters, #7: President Josiah Bartlet, The West Wing


Stand there in your wrongness and be wrong and get used to it.

The West Wing has been described by many observers as a liberal fantasy. If that includes an erudite, passionate, thoughtful Commander-in-Chief with a Nobel Prize in Economics and a left of center philosophy, sign me up. Yes, he's from New Hampshire but can't pronounce Concord. Nobody's perfect.

Aaron Sorkin's signature television series is brilliantly written, cast, shot, and acted. It stumbled a bit after his departure, but the second season contains some of the best television drama ever. At times it's a virtual walking (and talking) Civics class, one we could probably still use now. Even after Sorkin split, the series regained its equilibrium in its seventh and final season, with some episodes capable of restoring your faith in America and her servants. At least, her fictional ones.

There are lots of choices I could have made (Toby, Josh, etc.) and who may yet show up on this list. But President Bartlet's wisdom, wit, and heart are my favorite aspects of the show, and qualities we should all demand in our Chief Executive.

What's next?

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