Anybody Else Think Jed Bartlet Was Our Best President?

Quick, who’s your favorite president?

Lincoln? Kennedy? Reagan? Clinton? Obama? No time to think, just react.


President Jed Bartlet

My favorite has to be Josiah “Jed” Bartlet who reigned over the “West Wing” for seven years from 1999 to 2006. And while his character was the stuff of TV lore, I think we’ve all aspired to work for someone who is as comfortable quoting Leviticus as he is reciting from Shakespeare.

I was truly pleased the other day when I stumbled upon the addition of “West Wing” to the Netflix library. For a long time I’d hoped that our oldest son would be able to watch the intricate writing and cleaver thought process of the show through the years.

It also reminded me of what a good president Bartlet was — although you’d be hard-pressed to find someone in real life as comfortable in his own skin as old Jed.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the habits of not just good bosses but highly successful people. It seems like every day my inbox is filled with messages telling me about better bosses, social media strategies and the latest deal on unsightly hair removal.

So we watched an episode of the West Wing, my son and I. In fact, it was the series pilot and Bartlet didn’t come on stage until almost the end, but when he did he walked into a hornet’s nest with his liberal-leaning staff trading a heated debate with leaders from the religious right it was pure Bartlet magic that won the scene.

Bartlet has the ability to go from engaged listener to leader of the free world in the turn of the hat. He listens more than he talks and looks the speaker in the eye as he receives the message. But when he steps up to the plate, it is with authority and conviction.

He does his homework and knows not just about the message someone is giving but the story of the messenger him or herself. He uses this knowledge to guide his response to the situation. His answers, although sometimes difficult for the intended audience to receive, are genuine and precise.

Mrs. Pynchon

Mrs. Pynchon

I think we’d all like to one day work for a boss who has a clear-cut vision for the company and him or herself. Someone who is playing chess while those around him are merely moving checkers around the board.

We’d all like to work for bosses who reward success and see failure as an opportunity to teach instead of a sign of weakness. A boss with the compassion who wants you to advance as much as a human being as a she does for you as a worker.

Affective bosses know when to step in and when to pull back and let workers figure things out for themselves. They also know that it’s more important to provide daily and weekly feedback than it is to set lofty goals once a year that serve as an annual “gotcha” for both the employee and the boss.


Lou Grant

Now Jed Bartlet had a team of writers, arguably some of the best in the world, helping him turn a phrase from his granddaughter into an argument to settle an issue of world affairs.

But just once, wouldn’t you like to work for that kind of woman or man? A person of such conviction that they challenge what’s easy or conventional wisdom for the sake of what’s right?

I’m reminded of another of my favorite TV characters, Mrs. Pynchon the plucky publisher from the old “Lou Grant” show. In one episode she remarked something to the effect of damn the advertisers Mr. Grant, we are going to publish this story. It’s important.

It’s easy to have such strong views as Bartlet and Pynchon when the only repercussion is a bad rating or at worst cancellation. We’re all paper tigers when we’re alone talking about our convictions with our friends.

Now I know TV and movie heroes have the luxury of happy endings that provide closure in just 60 or 90 minutes of our lives. But just once though, wouldn’t it be fun to work for that person who is larger than life?


Tags: , , ,

3 Responses to “Anybody Else Think Jed Bartlet Was Our Best President?”

  1. Says:

    Just what exactly truly inspired you to write “Anybody
    Else Think Jed Bartlet Was Our Best President? | Xogdog’s Blog”? I personallyabsolutely adored the blog post! Thanks a lot ,Peggy

    • xogdog Says:

      Peggy, Ever since we found “West Wing” on Netflix we’ve been trying to get our boys to watch it. While you might not always agree with the opinions, the writing and thought process is so clever it makes you wonder if we’ll ever have a president with this much insight and ability. Thanks for reading. And thanks to Netflix for putting the episodes on the playlist.

  2. nikolai Says:

    You might like this as it progresses:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: