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The Barlet Administration was the executive branch of the government of the United States from 1999 to 2007, headed by President Josiah Bartlet.


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 favorable. 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 Kundu. The President managed to negotiate a peace between Israel 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 Kundu 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 begins part-way through the first year of the administration.

In his first term as President, Josiah Bartlet finds his staff is restless, unable to pass legislation on the hill and with their job approval often lagging in the 40s. 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 deal-making, 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. This leads to a rally in the polls to at least 51%. 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. In the wake of the shooting, both President Bartlet and Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman have been hit. While the President is not seriously injured, Josh is critically wounded.

Josh survives, and the staff go on to face a myriad of challenges that include the President's hiring of a staunch Republican 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. In the November 2000 midterms, the balance of power in congress stays the same, with the Republicans holding both the House and the Senate.

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 hostilities.

Meanwhile, everyone is worried about the campaign, as Gov. Ritchie may wind up winning because the public has such low expectations of him, 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 - Bartlet does this, securing a "lonely landslide" - he beats Ritchie easily in Electoral College, but the Republicans once again retain control of both houses of Congress as voters split tickets across the country.

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.

In mid-2003 the new House Speaker, Jeff Haffley, took on a much more combative approach than his predecessor and Democrats are further weakened due to concerns about national security and a sluggish economy, leading to a malaise setting in around the White House in 2003-2004 that mirrors the problems the administration faced in its first 18 months. Haffley is able to prevent Bartlet nominating his chosen vice president Lewis Berryhill (instead forcing him to accept Bob Russell as a compromise), torpedoes a Democratic stimulus package, forces the White House to accept tax and spending cuts, and shuts down the government. However, after standing up to Haffley during the shutdown, Bartlet regains some standing. The administration subsequently took on sentencing reform, covertly supported a historic deal on Social Security, brokered a compromise to appoint two new Supreme Court justices and passed a major new free trade deal in Brussels. However, the Abdul Shareef affair and Zoey Bartlet crisis continued to put national security and the war on terrorism center-stage, providing the Republicans with an advantage. In the 2004 midterms, the Republicans again kept control of both houses of Congress. In late 2005 in the wake of President Bartlet securing a historic peace deal in the Middle East, it is mentioned that 57% of Americans would vote for him if he were not prevented from running for a third term.[1]

In the final 18 months of the Bartlet administration, political focus shifts to the presidential election, with contested primaries in both parties and then a close-fought general election between eventual nominees Matt Santos and Arnold Vinick. However, the administration's policies on stem cell research and Cuba, a security leak from the White House about the existence of a military space shuttle, and finally President Bartlet's responses to twin crises at home and abroad in the closing weeks of the presidential campaign (a nuclear accident in San Andreo, California and the need to deploy US peacekeepers to prevent war between Russia and China in Kazakhstan) all become hot issues in the ongoing election to replace Bartlet. Bartlet had an approval rating of 66% even after the shuttle leak[2] and Republican nominee Vinick paid tribute to him in his convention speech in an effort to court pro-Bartlet voters.[3]

Legislation and Programs[]

Major legislation signed[]

  • Banking Reform Bill (1999)
  • Education Bill
  • Internet Education Act (assumed) (2002)
  • Lowell Lydell Hate Crimes Bill (2000)
  • Gun Control Bill (1999)
  • Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (1999)
  • Family Wellness Act (2001)
  • Foreign Ops Bill (2003)
  • Global Free Trade Markets Access Act (2000)
  • Brussels Rounds trade agreement (2004)
  • Santos-Strickman Patients Bill of Rights Act (2005)
  • Central American Free Trade Agreement (2005)

Major legislation vetoed[]

  • Marriage Recognition Act (pocket veto)
  • Death Tax Elimination Act
  • Several school vouchers bills
  • Highways Bill (overrode)

Proposals not passed by Congress[]

  • Universal healthcare reform[4]
  • Foreign adoption policy
  • Hybrid energy partnerships
  • Special education for kids with disabilities
  • Ammunition control
  • 21st Century Teachers Corps[5]


  • 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.


President Josiah Bartlet 19992007
Vice President John Hoynes 19992003
Bob Russell 20032007
Secretary of State Lewis Berryhill 19992007
Secretary of the Treasury Ken Kato 19992004
Karen Browning 20042007
Secretary of Defense Miles Hutchinson 19992007
United States Attorney General Dan Larson 19992003
Alan Fisk 20032007
Secretary of the Interior Bill Horton 19992007
Secretary of Agriculture Roger Tribbey 19992007
Secretary of Commerce Mitch Bryce 19992007
Secretary of Labor Carl Reid 19992002
Jack Buckland 20022007
Secretary of Health and Education Jim Kane 19992007
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Deborah O'Leary 19992001
Bill Fisher 20012007
Secretary of Energy Bill Trotter 19992004
Gerald Deloit 20042007
Secretary of Veteran Affairs Jason Weaver 19992007
White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry 19992005
C.J. Cregg 20052007
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Percy Fitzwallace 19992005
Nicholas Alexander 20052007



Bartlet appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court:


Federal Reserve Chairman Bernard Dahl 1999–2000
Ron Erlich 2000–
Federal Election Commission John Bacon 2000–
Patty Calhoun 2000–
Surgeon General Millicent Griffith 1999–

White House Senior Staff[]

White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry 19992005
C.J. Cregg 20052007
White House Counsel Solomon 1999/2000
Gates 1999/2000
Cochran 1999/2000
Lionel Tribbey 20002001
Oliver Babish 20012007
White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler 19992006
Will Bailey 20062007
Deputy White House Chief of Staff for Strategic Planning Josh Lyman 19992005
Cliff Calley 20062007
Deputy White House Communications Director Sam Seaborn 19992003
Will Bailey 2003
Executive Secretary to the President of the United States Dolores Landingham 19992001
Deborah Fiderer 20012007
White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg 19992005
Toby Ziegler 2005-2006
Will Bailey 2006—2007 (acting)
Personal Aide to the President of the United States Ted Miller 1999
Charlie Young 19992005
Curtis Carruthers 20052007
White House Media Director Mandy Hampton 19992000
National Security Advisor Nancy McNally 19992007
Deputy National Security Advisor Kate Harper 20042007
Deputy White House Press Secretary for Media Relations Tim Waters Unknown
Annabeth Schott 20052007
Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States Will Bailey 20032006
Chief of Staff to the First Lady of the United States Lilli Mays 2000
Max 2003
Amy Gardner 2003

The Economy[]

To be added

Foreign policy[]

Main article: Foreign policy of the Bartlet Administration

Notes and references[]