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View Full Version : Why do we so rarely see Cabinet secretaries on "The West Wing"?


BrainGlutton
04-05-2005, 02:09 PM
The West Wing always seems to convey the impression that the White House Staff, after the president, are running the government. But they don't, do they? I mean, they just schedule the prez' appearances and do press conferences and issue policy statements and stuff. Isn't the secretary of any federal department a much more important official than the WH Chief of Staff? Yet we almost never see a Cabinet secretary on the show and we almost never see Bartlett in a Cabinet meeting. Why is that?

Munch
04-05-2005, 02:25 PM
The West Wing always seems to convey the impression that the White House Staff, after the president, are running the government.
It does? Seems to me it conveys the impression that the WH Staff, after the president, are running the administration's agenda, as well as forming policy that dictates the actions of the President.

Isn't the secretary of any federal department a much more important official than the WH Chief of Staff?
1. No (possible exception: SecDef).
2. Even if they were, they don't operate out of the White House, let alone the West Wing.

Yet we almost never see a Cabinet secretary on the show and we almost never see Bartlett in a Cabinet meeting. Why is that?
Cabinet meetings are quite rare in real life.

Zahava424
04-05-2005, 07:03 PM
The only Cabinet Secretary meeting I remember was when Bartlet invoked the 25th Amendment to give Walken the Presidency and wanted the cabinet's unanimous approval.
Incidentally, one of the downsides discussed regarding that turnover was that it elevated the most powerful Republican in the government and guaranteed the Republicans the White House next term. Why do we never here about that fallout now that the election is in progress?

Little Nemo
04-05-2005, 09:45 PM
Incidentally, one of the downsides discussed regarding that turnover was that it elevated the most powerful Republican in the government and guaranteed the Republicans the White House next term. Why do we never here about that fallout now that the election is in progress?
I think that was supposed to be a case of Josh and Toby always assumed the worst case scenario. At around the same time, we saw one of their Republican counterparts saying they were worried that Bartlet's actions would cause big Democratic gains in the next election.

BobT
04-06-2005, 01:23 AM
The only Cabinet secretary who shows up consistently is the Secretary of Defense and he and Bartlet seem to be at odds all the time.

In one of the earliest episodes (I think it was the second one), Bartlet has to tell the Sec. of HUD to apologize to someone.

There are many important members of the White House you don't see anymore. Who knows whatever happened to the White House Counsel?

Most often when there's a crisis, some mid-level aide from a department comes by and briefs someone on the White House staff. Invariably these are used for comic effect.

And the deputy to the National Security Adviser seems to be on duty all the time.

Munch
04-06-2005, 08:59 AM
Who all have we seen? I wonder if Sorkin and not-Sorkin have tried to fit them all in some time or another.

Secretaries I know we've seen:

Sec. of Defense: on all the time
Sec. of Agriculture: Was given the keys to the White House in case everyone got blown up during a State of the Union speech
Sec. of HUD: Previously mentioned

Frankly, I'm surprised that the SoS doesn't make more appearances.

Zahava424
04-06-2005, 09:03 AM
It's true; the NSA deputy (Kate Harper) seems to be there all the time. Why? She's irritating and has no real weight the way Nancy did. They're trying to make her seem dutiful, supernaturally smart (as in the Israeli/Palestinian negotiations), sexy, mysterious, and neurotic and needy all at once. It just can't work.
By the way, is she filling the job vacated by Jack Reese after he drew up that verboten force-depletion report?

Mr. Goob
04-06-2005, 09:34 AM
I've wondered the reality of this in the past. It's a tight ensamble cast, think of Star Trek, the ship had a huge crew but 7 people seemed to do all the work.

To add to Munch's list, Bartlett was all set to nominate the Secretary of State to VP before Bingo Bob got jammed down his throat.

Not a Secretary, but we've seen the Surgeon General a few times.

Captain Amazing
04-06-2005, 09:45 AM
Isn't the secretary of any federal department a much more important official than the WH Chief of Staff?

When a cabinet secretary wants to see the President, he makes an appointment. When the White House COS wants to see the President, he opens one of the doors in his office, steps through it, and is in the Oval Office. Access is power, and the Chief of Staff has more access to the President than almost anyone else.

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