Everything I Need to Know, I Learned From President Jed Bartlet

I just filled out my ballot and took it down to the ol’ drop box in my little hometown. I am pretty excited for our future as a nation, I am pretty excited that the election will soon be over. I am pretty excited to hopefully see how President Obama can guide us through the next four years of our country’s life.

But believe you me, whenever I am thinking a whole lot about politics, I get all West Wingy and you know what else? I was extremely tempted to write-in Mr. Josiah Bartlet for President. I refrained, but it’s like…

EINTKILF President Jed Bartlet

1. The definition of “post hoc, ergo propter hoc.” 
(Fun fact: this is also the title of the episode!)

Bartlet: CJ, on your tombstone, it’s gonna read “post hoc ergo propter hoc.”
CJ: Okay, but none of my visitors are going to be able to understand my tombstone.
Bartlet: Twenty-seven lawyers in the room, anybody know “post hoc, ergo propter hoc”? Josh?
Josh: Ah, post, after, hoc, ergo, therefore…after hoc, therefore something else hoc.
Bartlet: Thank you. Next? Leo.
Leo: “After it, therefore because of it.”

Of course, there is a deeper meaning here. Something like–is the shift in President Bartlet’s approach regarding foreign policy directly connected with the untimely (and totally heartbreaking!) death of Captain Morris Tolliver, the President’s doctor, or is that a coincidence? But really, we can be basic here.

I also learned that President Bartlet is pretty much always the smartest man in the room.

2. The Bible should not be taken quite so literally.
I want to say “ever,” but to be fair, I will say, “most times.” In likely one of my ten favorite scenes (why do I always have to rank in tens? Is that a disorder?) from The West Wing, Bartlet shuts down a conservative radio talk show host called Dr. Jenna Jacobs for referring to homosexuality as “an abomination.” Bartlet begins to discredit the “Doctor” by questioning in which subject she has obtained a PhD in–you know, to remind her listeners that a PhD in English Literature does not qualify one to advise other human beings on much of anything, especially relating to health or psychological issues. He then, in the most goosebump-worthy speech makes her seem ridiculous for using the Bible as a crutch or an explanation for anything.

Jacobs: I don’t say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President. The Bible does.
Bartlet: Yes it does. Leviticus.
Jacobs: 18:22.
Bartlet: Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I have you here. I’m interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She’s a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? While thinking about that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff Leo McGarry insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police? Here’s one that’s really important because we’ve got a lot of sports fans in this town: touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? Think about those questions, would you? One last thing: while you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the Ignorant Tight-Ass Club, in this building, when the President stands, nobody sits.

I don’t actually even know if that kind of boom roasting is allowed in a real life presidency, but I would certainly vote for a man or woman who called a conservative talk show host a “tight ass.”

3. Accept your challenges.
While recognizing the fact that any West Wing fan will probably claim that “20 Hours in America” is among their very favorite episodes of the show, I will just mention that President Bartlet gives an incredibly moving speech (credit goes to Sam Seaborn (played by Rob Lowe, the sexiest man alive) resident hottie of the Oval Office, for writing it) concerning a pipe bomb explosion occurring during a swim meet earlier in the day.

“The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we’re reminded that that capacity may well be limitless.”

That capacity may well be limitless, indeed. Life is full of tragedies and challenges. The only way to face a challenge  of any magnitude is to face it. The only way to overcome something is to overcome it. Human beings are capable of anything, guys. Remember that.

And, I love Aaron Sorkin enough to hope and assume that he borrowed a line or two from the greatest Oscar speech in the history of time, Tom Hanks’ Best Actor ( for Philadelphia) acceptance. Mr. Sorkin, say it is so! I would have everlasting happiness within my heart.

Tom Hanks, you are the love of my whole life.

4. Dynamic men need dynamic partners.
Arguably the most fantastic thing about President Bartlet?

His magnetic and brilliant wife.

“When did I stop being ‘Dr. Bartlet’? When in the campaign did I decide that women were gonna like me more if I called myself ‘Mrs.’? When did I decide that women were that stupid?” Abigail Bartlet

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a First Lady that we all respected as much as we respect our commander-in-chief? Oh, wait…

5. The Korean word, “Han.”
In season 5, there is an episode (also called “Han”) in which a North Korean piano player comes to the White House to perform music and ends up slipping President Bartlet a note informing him that he wishes to defect (aka stay there/pledge his allegiance to America). The White House staff attempts to get him to change his mind because it would damage the negotiations between America and North Korea concerning nuclear missiles. Once decided that Bartlet and Co. will neither help him defect, nor encourage him not to, the pianist decides to return home. In yet another passionate and moving West Wing moment, Bartlet explains to CJ what “han” means.

“There’s a Korean word, Han. I looked it up. There is no literal English translation. It’s a state of mind. Of soul, really. A sadness. A sadness so deep no tears will come. And yet, still, there’s hope.”

(Now I’m crying. Are you crying? Cause I’m crying.)

6. How to make stuffing properly.
One special Thanksgiving (in season three), President Bartlet insists on calling the Butterball hotline to discover the best way to cook stuffing. Since, you know, he is the President of the United States of America, he pretends to be Joe Bethersontin from Fargo, North Dakota. With Toby’s assistance, it is one hilarious scene.

Butterball Hotline: Do you have an accurate thermometer?
Bartlet: Oh, yeah. It was presented to me as a gift from the personal sous chef to the king of auto sales in…
Toby: Fargo.
Bartlet: Fargo. Phil Baharnd. The man can sell a car like, well, like anything.

So, to make stuffing, have an accurate thermometer.

7. How to shut someone down.
No one tells a guy off like President Bartlet.

“I’ve just taken your airport.”

“I’m not going to negotiate with anyone who holds a gun to my head. We had a deal! I don’t care if my approval ratings drop into the single digits. I am the President of the United States and I will leave this government shut down until we reach an equitable agreement!”

“In the future, if you’re wondering, ‘Crime. Boy, I don’t know’ is when I decided to kick your ass.”

Jed Bartlet is so straight, no chasers. He has got this radical way of making big, puffed up men feel a few inches tall. Like a boss.

8. Adopt a son.
Bartlet hires Charlie Young, the most attractive aid to the president (and person, in general) when Charlie is but a wee young man. Through their close working relationship, Charlie and President Bartlet become a lot more like father and son. As a man with only daughters, I am sure it was easy for Bartlet to step into a father figure role for Charlie, especially since he is parent-less after his mother’s tragic murder.

And yes, I know these people aren’t real.

9. Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.
: Jed, what are you thinking about?
Bartlet: Tomorrow.

The last words President Bartlet speaks on the show, in the last episode of The West Wing. Spoken right after Bartlet opens a gift that Mallory, Leo McGarry’s daughter, gives him. Well, we all know what that gift was, don’t we?

Tears, tears, tears. Which leads me to my next point:

10. How to be a best friend.
Leo McGarry and Bartlet are the best of friends. They fight like best friends, they respect one another like best friends, they are loyal like mad–as best friends should be to one another. Best best friends ever.

Bartlet: You have a best friend?
Secretary of Agriculture:  Yes, sir.
Bartlet: Is he smarter than you?
Secretary of Agriculture: Yes, sir.
Bartlet:  Would you trust him with your life?
Secretary of Agriculture:  Yes, sir.
Bartlet: That’s your chief of staff.

My favorite? In “Two Cathedrals” when President Bartlet comes into the press conference all wet and angry after bitching out God and “Brothers in Arms” is playing and I’m crying and Bartlet’s whole staff is looking at him in wonderment and a reporter asks if he will be seeking a second term and the music is building and then Leo says, “watch this.” Chills, every single time. No one knows you like your best friend.

 I can’t help but wonder–are Jacob Joseph “Jack” Lew and President Obama BFFLS, or no? Probably not.

Few other points: this is the greatest thing ever (kudos drfunky17) and if you care what Martin Sheen thinks, because the man is as fan-bloody-tastic as his fictional character, he has incredible political insight.

Also, I am really attracted to Martin Sheen and I don’t even care if that’s weird.