Life in the West Wing

I hardly watch any television besides the news, but I have become quite hooked on “The West Wing”. I am wondering how accurate the show depicts how life is in the White House. I understand that, in reality, people working 17 hours straight probably look a little more tired - but do they even work so many hours in a row? Many of the characters often find themselves there at midnight or later, and coming back at 4 a.m.

Is it accurate?

Only when Martin Sheen becomes president. :wink:

I am also a fan of West Wing…Dunno…
The thing that bothers me is thinking about what they must be “on” to stay awake so long…Uppers? what?
When Colin Powell is in New York one day and Brussels or South korea or Pakistan the next how does he avoid jet lag? Is foreign policy being formulated by people with jet lag…When I came back from Europe it was a week before I could think clearly and sleep thru the nite…
As a fan of West Wing have you seen the site called “Television without pity”? They discuss each episode…It is pretty good…POTUS

Well, I never worked in the white house or anything close; I only have a little experience in some much lower campaigns and political-level government offices.

But the West Wing seems to have an OK feel to me, accuracy-wise, except for the obvious things they have to do to make good TV:
such as issues always get resolved in one episode (or a couple at most), and there are only 6 or so characters involved in every issue.
That and President Bartlett is a fantasy of perfection both personally and politically, of course. I’d prefer that the show have him making an ugly compromise once in a while, or doing what he thinks is morally less than ideal because he needs to keep public support, because I think most voters don’t understand the necessity of both of these in real life, but that’s just MHO.

Back to hours worked, I think the amount of hours worked in the real WH varies for each little group (i.e. the general counsel may expect his staff to work insane hours while the press secretary may have a more relaxed expecation from her staff, or vice versa), and somewhat on a person-to-person level (at any job, you know someone who is always in early, right?), with the personal variation increasing as you go up the chain, because they’re in control – it’s generally accepted that the work habits of the current and former POTUS are a little different, for instance.

But yeah, most real staffers probably do work a lot. Not 17 hours every day, most likely, but 12 a day minimum is probably common, with more on occasion. My guess is that there’s very little use of stimulants other than caffeine. If you can’t take this kind of schedule and thrive on it, don’t work at the white house. Remember, they don’t have a big personal life (I think it’s great that the show had someone getting divorced because he was spending too much time on the job). So yeah, big policy decisions are made by sleep-deprived people all the time. just like most medical intensive care decisions in hospitals are made by sleep-deprived people. Take your pick which one is more scary.

Quercus, I seem to remember that making the decision to secretly assassinate the foreign minister of Kumar was morally very difficult for Bartlett. Of course, that wasn’t done to protect his image (the assassination, not the secrecy). However, lying about his medical condition during his first campaign was. I mostly agree with you that he is portrayed as implausibly perfect, but every once in a while the writers allow him to be flawed, if only to make a good storyline.

That was my point. Don’t you know that Martin Sheen is perfect? :wink: