Tuesday, March 1, 2016

An Ode to My Favorite Fictional President, Jed Bartlet (Who Has MS)

In honor of Super Tuesday and my deep, deep desire that any of my favorite fictional presidents (Bartlet from West Wing and Palmer from 24 are my top two, by far) were real and running this year, I've decided to spend a little time here celebrating President Bartlet.

Reasons I love him:

1. The jacket flip:

2. I generally found him to be ethical, empathetic, and a maker of great policy decisions.

3. The MS storyline!

If you haven't seen The West Wing, I strongly recommend you watch it for the MS storyline alone. MS is not an overwhelming factor overall and it isn't a part of every episode by any means, but the disease is a major character on the show and it's handled very well.

I started watching the show (after it's run on tv was over) specifically because I'd heard that the president had MS. I ended up LOVING the show for tons of reasons, but the MS storyline was certainly one of them. It did something big for MS awareness, as this was a very popular, mainstream television show, and the disease was presented in a factual, real way. It also provided an emotional insight into the disease from the perspective of both the person with MS and their loved ones. It, of course, was also unique in that the person with MS was the leader of the free world, and he was hiding the disease from everyone except his wife, especially the country that elected him. It all comes out eventually, and it's extremely problematic, but he gets reelected despite the disease.

Here is the scene when Bartlet's Chief of Staff has just learned about the MS:

And here is when the Communications Director does:

There are a few other MS-related West Wing clips on YouTube, but I kind of want to get the whole MS storyline up there. I obviously think people should watch the whole series, but it would be cool to just see the MS storyline. We'll see if I ever get around to doing it.

I watched the show with my mom and we had a big argument about the MS storyline. Would you vote for a presidential candidate with MS? I said no. My mom was pretty upset at this, obviously on my behalf. I certainly understand her arguments, and ultimately if Jed Bartlet was a real candidate, I would totally vote for him. But if MS was a factor made known ahead of time, I think I would hesitate. When he's first elected, his MS isn't really impacting him. It certainly does impact him as the series goes on, but he's still entirely capable and believable. Knowing what MS fatigue alone is like, I just question if a job that incredibly demanding would be a good idea. All of this said, I also think I'd probably be personally offended and pretty upset if someone else expressed this same opinion. (Whether people expressed it or not, though, I highly highly highly doubt this country would ever elect a president with MS or any of a number of other diseases/disabilities.) Thoughts?

Assuming he/she is otherwise your dream candidate, would you vote for a Presidential candidate with MS?

1 comment:

Traci said...

We've had this discussion before and I've thought about it quite a bit. My overall thoughts align with your last paragraph--I see both sides. However, I did vote yes, as you phrased the question in that he/she is my dream candidate [also, what's with the word otherwise?]. My dream candidate, if he/she also had MS, wouldn't run for presidency if his/her MS wasn't somewhat stable at the moment. Of course, obviously, that can change quickly...

I unfortunately also agree with you on the unlikeliness of this country ever electing someone with MS, but I truly don't think it's impossible, and I'm definitely in the voting yes category for my dream candidate!

...especially if this person was also a jacket-flipper like Bartlet.