The administration faced political opposition in the form of a Republican congress for its entire duration, despite a landslide re-election to the White House in 2002. There was a shaky start with a number of unspecified PR "disasters" and policy failures during the first year in office. However, after adopting the new strategy "Let Bartlet be Bartlet" (so dubbed by Leo McGarry) public opinion swung towards the favourable. A number of scandals afflicted the Bartlet Presidency, including the revelation that the President himself suffered from Relapsing Remitting MS, the drug addiction and Alcoholism of White House Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry, the extramarital affairs of Vice President John Hoynes, Deputy Comunications Director, Sam Seaborn's association with a call-girl and the leaking of classified information by Toby Ziegler.
In foreign policy the administration faced two major threats to world peace the first between India and Pakistan in 2000 and the second between Russia and China over Kazakhstani oil during the last days of Bartlet's Presidency. Attempts were made to end first the AIDS problem and later the genocide in Equatorial Qundu. The President managed to negotiate a peace between Isreal and Palestine in 2005 which required a US peacekeeping force. However the deal was made precarious by the assassination of Chairman Farad in 2006. The President decided to fly out himself to attend the funeral in an effort to shore up the peace.
Social spending, and military excursions in Equatorial Qundu and the Levant combined with an economic downturn midway through the administration meant the debt ceiling had to be raised in 2006.
First Term (1999-2003)
The first season of The West Wing takes place during the second year of the administration.
In his first term as President, Josiah Bartlet finds his staff is restless, unable to pass legislation on the hill. To make matters worse, his Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman has just insulted the Religious Right on a national television program. As Bartlet and his staff work together to pass legislation through back channels and dealmaking, Bartlet decides to finally make a stand and attempts to get Roberto Mendoza appointed to the Supreme Court.
While Bartlet is able to get Mendoza on the bench, he still finds himself stuck in neutral until a rousing speech from White House Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry, gets Bartlet to focus on the issues instead of re-election. A few short weeks later, as President Bartlett is leaving a successful speech, shots are fired on him and his staff, with the Secret Service wondering who had been shot.
Josh survives, and the staff go on to face a myriad of challenges that include the President's hiring of a staunch Rebublican as an associate counsel, a trip to Portland, the discovery of Chinese refugees fleeing religious persecution, the loss of a costly Mars probe, Josh's post-traumatic stress disorder, and Bartlet's third State of the Union Address.
All of these challenges are rendered minor after the staff and the President are confronted with two serious events; the revelation of Bartlet's concealed serious illness to the public, and the death of one of their own. There is one question on everyone's lips; will Josiah Bartlet seek a second term.
Despite his concealing a serious illness from the American people, President Bartlet will run again, and he intends to win.
It may not be that simple. First, his decision causes serious friction with his wife, Abbey, who had made the President promise to only serve one term. Next, a team of election consultants led by Bruno Gianelli clashes with the idealistic and resentful staffers. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives begin their probe into the cover-up of Bartlet's illness, with both Donna and Leo finding themselves in sticky situations. To end it all, Bartlet is forced to make a difficult decision.
The staffers' personal lives are not any less complicated, either. Josh finds himself drawn to woman's activist Amy Gardner while Toby confronts the President about his sacrificing of political ideals in order to be liked, which causes a rift between them. Sam is confronted by several challenges, including having to deal with his ex-fiance and a betrayal by a friend that hurts him deeply and embarrasses him publicly.
Finally, C.J. receives a death threat after making pointed comments about Saudi Arabia, threats so serious that they require the protection of the Secret Service.
The President is forced to make a deadly decision when it is uncovered that a foreign diplomat is also a terrorist that has plans to attack the U.S.
The campaign in full swing, Toby, Josh and Donna are left behind by the motorcade and, through a series of missteps, spend 20 hours getting back to D.C. And that's just the first of many challenges facing Bartlet and his staff.
The ramifications of the Bartlet administration's decision to assassinate Qumari Defense Minister Abdul Sharif start to become apparent, as Qumar seeks to use the death to accuse Israel and instigate hostilites.
Meanwhile, everyone is worried about the campaign, as Gov. Ritchie may wind up winning because the public has such low expectations ofhim, which he can only beat. Bartlet, on the other hand, has the reverse problem. It all comes down to a debate that Bartlet has to win, and win handily.
Second Term (2003-2007)
Sam, on the other hand, has problems of his own. He goes to California to persuade a congressional campaign manager named Will Bailey to end a campaign where the candidate has died. When Will refuses, Sam makes a promise to run should the late candidate win, which seems highly unlikely. Sam isn't counting on Will's brilliance, though, and he finds himself in sticky situation that may force him to leave the West Wing.
Finally, all hell breaks loose as Zoey, about to embark on a trip to France, is abducted by parties unknown. With the nation on high alert in wake of the kidnapping, Bartlet makes the most fateful decision of his presidency, and his fatherhood.
Zoey Bartlet has been kidnapped. The President has relinquished office to a Republican Speaker of the House because the vacancy of Vice President had not been filled. After the crisis has been resolved, there is the selection of a new Vice President, the former Vice President’s tell all autobiography, the shutdown of the Federal government, the rescue of Social Security, a visit from the cast of Sesame Street, the selection of two new Supreme Court Justices and a fact finding mission to Gaza that rattles the Senior Staff to the core.
Legislation and Programs
Major legislation signed
- Banking Reform Bill
- Education Bill
- Internet Education Act (assumed)
- Hate Crimes Bill
- Gun Control Bill
- Family Wellness Act
- Foreign Ops Bill
Major legislation vetoed
- Marriage Recognition Act (pocket veto)
- Death Tax Elimination Act
- Several school vouchers bills
- Highways Bill (overrode)
Proposals not passed by Congress
- To be added
- Pilot program for a 100 teachers passed through college on teaching scholarships (unknown if it was passed)
- Bartlet Doctrine: a new doctrine for the use of force for humanitarian uses, such as halting a genocide in the Republic of Equatorial Kundu.
Bartlet appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court:
- Roberto Mendoza - 2000
- Evelyn Baker Lang - 2004, first woman to serve as Chief Justice
- Christopher Mulready - 2004, in a comprise to preserve the ideological balance of the Court, Justice Mulready was "suggested" by Senate Republicans in exchange for Senate approval for Chief Justice Lang.
|Federal Reserve Chairman||Bernard Dahl||1999–2000|
|Federal Election Commission||John Bacon||2000–|
|Surgeon General||Millicent Griffith||1999–|
White House Senior Staff
- To be added
- Main article: Foreign policy of the Bartlet Administration
Notes and references